GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The University of North Dakota on Wednesday unveiled the logo for its new Fighting Hawks nickname and called on its popular football coach to help promote the change from the school's controversial Fighting Sioux moniker.
The new logo depicts a white hawk head with black shading and a black eye, atop the angular letters "ND" in green. The school also released a "North Dakota Fighting Hawks" wordmark, or descriptive name, in an effort to enhance the new graphic identity.
Head football coach Bubba Schweigert, a North Dakota native, told several hundred people who politely applauded the unveiling that he and his players would embrace the logo.
"I love this university," Schweigert said. "And I love the direction we're going, and it's really important that we feel that way about this change and this transition."
The NCAA in 2005 placed UND on a list of schools with American Indian nicknames, logos and mascots that it found objectionable. UND was the last holdout on the list, not retiring its nickname until 2012 after the school failed to win approval to keep it from the state's two Sioux tribes.
State residents also voted overwhelmingly that year to dump the nickname and American Indian head logo that was first unveiled in the 1930s and redesigned by a Native American UND alumnus in 1999.
The Fighting Hawks nickname was selected in a vote of alumni, students and staff. It beat out Roughriders, Nodaks, Sundogs and North Stars, and has been in use since late last year.
New York-based SME Branding worked for several months to design a logo to accompany the new moniker, at a cost of $49,500. Interim school President Ed Schafer made the final decision.
Schafer described the logo as clean and crisp with a streamlined look meant to reflect the power and speed of the school's athletes. Schweigert called it unique and dressy. Others on social media panned the new look as plain and boring.
Brian Faison, the school athletic director, said in an interview that he expected some backlash in a process that in some cases tore apart students, alumni and fans.
"In some instances maybe there will be people who never will warm up to it. I understand that allegiance," Faison said. "I hope at the end of the day, though, they will support the athletes and the coaches."
Schweigert said the moniker will be a good sell to future players.
"Recruits love that contemporary look," Schweigert said. "That's the way the world is nowadays."
Fighting Hawks volleyball player Chelsea Moser said the new look wasn't love at first sight, but that changed when slides were shown on a big video screen with mock uniforms featuring the logo.
"My teammates and I were kind of questioning it at first. Then we saw it on the uniforms and we just loved it," Moser said. "I like the fact it is simple and it isn't cartoonish or anything like that."
Moser, a senior-to-be who has played her entire career without a logo, said she wants "unity more than anything."
Faison said the football team will wear the logo on their helmets this year but in other cases teams have already ordered their uniforms and will not don the moniker for a year. The school plans an Aug. 13 merchandise launch.
Brad Berry, head coach of the national champion North Dakota men's hockey team, said it will take some time to digest the new look. For the upcoming season his team will wear the same jerseys with "North Dakota" on the front.
"Today was the first day we saw it, so there's got to be a process there," Berry said.
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