The 5 nickname choices — pros and cons

There has been a lot of discussion, letters to editors, and complaining about the choices, but it will soon end (except perhaps the complaining) as UND stakeholders choose one of the following as UND’s new nickname:

  • Fighting Hawks
  • Nodaks
  • North Stars
  • Roughriders
  • Sun Dogs

In case you don’t want to spend your time wading through the discussion, the letters, or the angst, I’ve attempted to summarize the most discussed pros and cons of each nickname on the ballot.

Fighting Hawks

  • Non-unique; ______-hawks is a frequent choice of NCAA schools that have changed names
  • “Fighting” retains some “Fighting Sioux” heritage
  • Tough, fierce animal
  • Strong logo possibilities


  • Variation on “just North Dakota”
  • Has been used in the past
  • Concerns about it in full name “University of North Dakota Nodaks”
  • Phonetically awkward (“no ring to it”, “sounds a bit hick”, etc…)
  • Doesn’t add a marketable brand

North Stars

  • Tied to region
  • Unique in NCAA
  • Minnesota state motto
  • Former Minnesota pro hockey team


  • The state’s unofficial motto (Roughrider state, Roughrider award), though some question Roosevelt’s ties to ND
  • Is a person/human
  • Unique in NCAA, though used in other leagues
  • In use by local (Grand Forks) high school
  • Strong logo possibilities
  • Sexual connotation/condom brand


  • Unique in NCAA
  • Weather phenomenon related to North Dakota’s unique climate
  • Questions as to logo (will we make it a dog, or a weather phenomenon?)
  • Originally proposed by anti-Sioux groups (BRIDGES) as a name sure to offend no one
  • Not seen as tough/fierce

I hope this helps someone, and what did I miss?

3 thoughts on “The 5 nickname choices — pros and cons”

  1. I am not a lawyer, but it seems there are already trademark claims on Roughriders, coming from Frisco (Tex.), Saskatchewan, and Dickinson (N.D.), on products the UND Roughriders would like to market.

  2. Nor am I, but UND seems aware of the issue and its lawyers are unconcerned:

    Before UND narrowed its extensive list of new nickname options to five finalists, a consultant conducted “a comprehensive trademark search,” Johnson said.

    “While additional steps may need to be taken to secure the trademarks for the final name, (the search showed) none of the names on the list were categorically unavailable. The university will pursue additional steps as necessary,” he said.

    He said the committee was told there was no reason to exclude Roughriders as a possible nickname, but there may be “more hurdles” associated with it.

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