University of North Dakota backers have selected Fighting Hawks as the school's new nickname, the school announced Wednesday. The predatory bird received 57% of the mascot vote compared to 43% for Roughriders. The new nickname replaces Fighting Sioux, which was retired by the state Board of Higher Education in 2012 because the NCAA deemed it "hostile and abusive." "I think this name underscores the tremendous competitive spirit of our athletic teams, our student athletes, and the entirety of the University of North Dakota, expressing our state spirit and the fact that UND continues to ascend to new heights on a daily basis," President Robert Kelley says. Brian Faison, UND's athletic director, says the transition to the new name will begin immediately, but it could take months to fully implement. The university will be accepting proposals from companies to design and market a new logo, to be completed next summer for use in the fall of 2016.
The NCAA disputed the Fighting Sioux nickname and forced UND to retire it after the school failed to win approval to keep it from the state's two tribes. The Spirit Lake tribe voted to keep the name, but the Standing Rock Sioux held no vote on the matter. State residents voted overwhelmingly in early 2012 to dump both the nickname and American Indian head logo first unveiled in the 1930s and redesigned by a Native American UND alumnus in 1999. The vote announced Wednesday was open to people with UND ties, including students, staff, and alums; 27,378 votes were cast. The final five possibilities also included the Nodaks, Sundogs, and North Stars. The UND student body president has said many students prefer Fighting Hawks because it retains some elements of the old label. The new nickname cost the school somewhere "in the high $200,000 range," a university rep says. (Read more Fargo stories.)