Let’s face it. Nobody except the University of North Dakota’s most blinkered boosters, and perhaps the school’s chuckling rivals at North Dakota State, like the new “Fighting Hawks” nickname. An utterly unscientific but none the less illuminating online poll on the Grand Forks Herald website has, as of the time of publication, over 90 percent of respondents saying they either hate the nickname or don’t care about it.
UND would probably have been better off with no nickname at all, but cest la vie. The ship has sailed.
What’s perhaps been more frustrating than being forced to cater to the minority of cranks who caused trouble for the original nickname has been this protracted, thoroughly mismanaged, and expensive process for picking a new nickname. Reports state that UND has spent over $200,000 on various consultants to arrive at the “Fighting Hawks” name which inspires such a mix of ambivalence and hatred.
Now comes word that another North Dakota university which also uses the “hawks” nickname has a problem.
The question of how the the two schools will share the skies is yet to be answered, but DSU interim President Jim Ozbun said DSU representatives have been in contact with the North Dakota attorney general’s office to see about protecting the shortened version of his university’s nickname.
“The Fighting Hawks is certainly different from Blue Hawks, but we often go by the shortened name of ‘Hawks,’” said Ozbun, a former NDSU president. “I’ve already expressed concern to the chancellor’s office and other places. If they’re going to go for Fighting Hawks, that’s fine. But it’d probably be better if they didn’t shorten it up.”
I honestly had no idea that Blue Hawks was the nickname at Dickinson State. The only term which comes to my mind when I thin of that campus is “diploma mill.” But I suppose they’ve got a legitimate gripe here.
The thing is, shortening the nickname seems inevitable. Everybody used “Sioux” as a stand in for “Fighting Sioux.” Of course UND is going to known as the Hawks.
Meanwhile, outgoing UND President Robert Kelley will be feted at a “farewell reception” (not sure who came up with that oxymoron) on December 2nd at the Gorecki Alumni Association. It’s not entirely fair to blame Kelley for the nickname mess. After all, it was the NCAA which picked this fight, but Kelley’s handling of it has been atrocious even up to the point of not recognizing that North Dakota already has one public university with the “hawks” moniker.
The nickname saga may be all over (except for the grumbling), but can we acknowledge the enormous mess Kelley is leaving behind him before we send him off into retirement? The man served UND and the State of North Dakota poorly.