GRAND FORKS – It’s back to the ballot for two remaining UND nickname options.
UND announced Sunday a third round of voting will take place between Fighting Hawks and Roughriders to select its athletic nickname after none of the three remaining nicknames won 50 percent or more of voter support.
Read previous UND nickname coverage here
“When we first announced the voting process, we expressed the desire to achieve that majority vote for a new nickname,” said Susan Walton, UND vice president for university and public affairs. “That intent hasn’t changed.”
The final runoff between these two names will be held for eligible voters beginning Nov. 12 at noon Central Time and concluding at 11:59 p.m. Central Time Nov. 16. A winner will be announced later that week.
In the most recent round of voting, which ended Friday, Fighting Hawks received 45.69 percent of voter support and Roughriders received 27.95 percent.
Nodaks received the least support with 26.36 percent of votes and is now out of the running.
“We’re continuing to make progress, we’re down to two names,” Walton said. “One of those will be UND’s nickname.”
A total of 26,479 votes were cast this round, nearly 4,200 more than the first vote on five nickname options. With 82,000 eligible voters, that puts voter turnout at 32.2 percent.
Fighting Hawks: 12,098.
While it’s unknown what eligible voter groups contributed more votes this round, UND Student Body President Matt Kopp said students were engaged in voting the first time around.
Results of the first five-day online public vote released Oct. 25 showed 31 percent of voters chose Fighting Hawks over Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs.
Roughriders came in second place with 21 percent of votes and Nodaks received 20 percent.
While the runoff originally was to include only two nickname options, UND President Robert Kelley made the decision to include Nodaks in the vote because of the 116-vote margin between it and the second place name.
With the upcoming vote, UND acknowledges it will be working around two holidays.
The vote will begin after Veterans Day and wrap up before the week of Thanksgiving, when many people take time off, Walton said.
Eligible voters will receive an email from Qualtrics, the online survey company used by UND, in the coming days with the subject “Final UND Runoff Vote,” which should be kept so instructions can be followed once the voting period opens. If the email does not appear, voters should check their email’s spam and junk folders.
Those eligible to vote are current UND students, faculty and staff, UND retirees, alumni, donors and current season ticket holders.
Once a nickname is selected, Walton said the university will begin taking steps to create graphic imagery.
“We anticipate we’ll have more details about that at the time the result of the runoff vote is announced,” she said.
The nickname voting process has been more than a year in the making with one committee developing a name selection process and another subsequently sifting through more than 1,000 nickname ideas submitted by the public.
UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname was retired in December 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions for members using Native American imagery.
While at least one resolution has come to UND Student Senate in the past decade seeking student government support for the Fighting Sioux nickname, Kopp said new resolutions regarding the nickname options have not surfaced.
“I think all the senators are content to just let the process play itself out and not necessarily endorse a nickname or anything like that,” he said.
Even as Fighting Hawks and Roughriders move forward, some contend the most logical replacement for a nickname was left off the ballot from the beginning.
In July, the university’s second nickname committee voted 7-4 in favor of eliminating the option of athletic teams playing under the name UND or North Dakota, which the school has done for about three years.
Kelley said he would reconsider the decision amid public outrage but ultimately kept the option off the ballot, saying it wasn’t a nickname and the school would always be UND.
That move left voters with Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs.
In September, representatives from UND’s University and Public Relations Department said the results of the nickname vote would stand and the winner will become the school’s athletic nickname.
Originally, only one runoff vote between the top two vote-getters from the first vote was supposed to take place, but UND announced Oct. 25 that Fighting Hawks, Roughriders and Nodaks would all be included in the runoff because only 116 votes had separated Nodaks from Roughriders.
Days later, the university announced that in order to have a name win by at least 50 percent of votes, a third runoff vote would be possible if none received the majority of support in the second round of voting.
Now the frontrunner, Fighting Hawks received two submissions when the first nickname committee asked the public to submit nickname suggestions in April.
Roughriders led with about 650 mentions followed by 124 variations of Nodaks.
Red River High School in Grand Forks also uses the Roughriders nickname, but Principal Kris Arason told the Herald in June he was supportive of UND using the name because they don’t compete with or against each other.
UND legal counsel told the nickname committee in July that Roughriders would be one of the most difficult names to trademark because it’s used athletically across the country.
A United States Hockey League team in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, owns the federal trademark for Roughriders and an attorney representing the group sent a letter to UND in April saying the team would be open to making a deal.