UND nickname vote comes to a close, results expected early next week

GRAND FORKS - The Grand Forks community now sits in wait after the vote to decide the University of North Dakota's athletic nickname came to a close.

GRAND FORKS – The Grand Forks community now sits in wait after the vote to decide the University of North Dakota's athletic nickname came to a close.

As many as 82,000 potential voters had a chance to pick from Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs in an online vote throughout the week. The voting closed at 11:59 p.m. Friday, and results could be released as early as Monday.

In September, Vice President for University and Public Affairs Susan Walton and UND spokesman Peter Johnson said the results of the vote would stand, and if a name receives more than 50 percent of votes, it will be the school's athletic nickname.

The vote was held through Qualtrics, an external survey technology provider, which will tally the votes and look for duplicates before releasing the results to UND next week.

Despite some issues with being able to vote early in the week, Johnson said his office and the UND Alumni Association and Foundation were able to help the "vast majority," and he thought the vote went well.

"For me, it's exciting to see this come to some kind of end point, whether that is early this coming week or a runoff vote later," he said.

The timeline has changed several times since UND President Robert Kelley first appointed a group a little more than a year ago to come up with the process that would be used to pick a new name. UND is picking a new name after retiring its longtime Fighting Sioux logo in late 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions.

Karl Goehring has numerous ties to UND, including as a former hockey player and a current instructor. He served on both nickname committees and said he has no idea how the vote will play out.

"It's interesting," he said. "From what I've heard, it's all over the map in terms of what people like."

Three small protests have been held since July, when it was announced continuing to play as UND or North Dakota wouldn't be a voting option, and some took to social media to criticize the school's actions.

UND Student Body President Matt Kopp said he thinks Fighting Hawks, the name he voted for, was the name most favored by students. He said he has the sense people are excited to see the results and are ready for it to be over.

"I think obviously throughout this whole process some mistakes have been made, and I've disagreed with some of them, but I think it's important for the university to rally behind the new nickname, whatever it is," Kopp said.

If a runoff vote is necessary, details will be announced early next week, Johnson said. It will be similar in nature to the first vote - occurring online through Qualtrics - and the same people eligible to vote the first time will be eligible for the second vote.

Logo development will happen after a name is chosen.

"When the timing is right, we'll announce what that process will be," Johnson said.

Nickname FAQs

Can I still vote on UND's nickname?

No, not unless none of the five options receives more than 50 percent of votes.

What if none of the names receives more than 50 percent of votes?

A runoff vote will be held between the top two contenders. Johnson said those eligible for the secondary vote would be the same who could vote the first time.

What if I have a new nickname idea that wasn't considered in the vote?

The university is no longer soliciting nickname ideas. The public was able to submit nicknames for consideration throughout the month of April.

I really liked that Fighting Hawks logo I saw circulating on the social media, so it's going to be used, right?

Not necessarily. UND will begin logo development after a name is officially picked. Johnson said the school is not soliciting suggestions at this time.

Can I still wear my Fighting Sioux gear once UND picks a new nickname?

Yes. President Robert Kelley and Ralph Engelstad Arena general manager Jody Hodgson both have said in the past they would never censor or restrict what people wear in regard to the Fighting Sioux image.