University of North Dakota adopts 'Fighting Hawks' as new nickname

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 11:50 AM

(Reuters) - The University of North Dakota said on Wednesday it will adopt the "Fighting Hawks" as its new nickname after retiring the "Fighting Sioux," which was banned under a national college sports policy that deemed such names and symbols racially offensive.

Voters, including students, faculty, staff, retirees, alumni, donors and season ticket holders, chose "Fighting Hawks" over "Roughriders" after a third runoff vote conducted from Nov. 12 until midnight on Monday, the university's president, Robert Kelley, said. The Hawks received slightly more than 57 percent of the 27,378 votes cast.

The "Nodaks" was eliminated last week after it came in last in a second round of voting, and none of the three choices received 50 percent of the votes. The Fighting Sioux nickname was dropped in 2012.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs U.S. college sports, in 2005 adopted a policy barring images considered offensive by Native American groups, while allowing schools to use them if the namesake groups approved. The university faced NCAA sanctions, including being barred from hosting athletic championships.

The school sued the NCAA over the policy, but agreed in a 2007 settlement to retire the name and logo if it could not obtain support from two namesake tribes. One tribe approved, but the second never voted.

The university prepared to retire the name and logo, but state lawmakers in 2011 approved a law requiring the school to retain them only to repeal the law in a special session.

Nickname supporters then gathered enough signatures to force a statewide referendum. After intense lobbying on both sides, residents voted in June 2012 to retire the nickname and logo.

The university went with no nickname as part of a transition.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)