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Emails show divide over UND's new nickname

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- In the days after President Robert Kelley announced the University of North Dakota's athletic nickname would be the Fighting Hawks, he received a handful of emails expressing both support and displeasure with the decision.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- In the days after President Robert Kelley announced the University of North Dakota's athletic nickname would be the Fighting Hawks, he received a handful of emails expressing both support and displeasure with the decision.

While critics of the name change have suggested State Board of Higher Education representatives should intervene, Chancellor Mark Hagerott didn't receive any emails from the public on the topic according to the results of an open records request.

Kelley's emails, also obtained through a records request, illustrated the continued division over UND's nickname. The school played as the Fighting Sioux from the 1930s to late 2012, when it was retired after the NCAA threatened sanctions.

Tom Ford, the government relations coordinator for the Grand Forks Region Base Realignment Impact Committee, sent a note of thanks to Kelley Nov. 18, the day of the announcement. Ford is enrolled in UND's MPA program and said Kelley's many accomplishments have been overshadowed by "one particular controversy."

"Congratulations on staying the course and making history -- the naming of the Fighting Hawks marks a new opportunity for UND to move on from the Fighting Sioux logo and concentrate on what truly is important, leading the way in research and providing a quality education for our students (such as me)," Ford said in the email.

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Jeff Willert, a UND alumnus, sent Kelley a letter he also forwarded to the Grand Forks Herald, calling the new nickname a "win-win." Willert also thanked Kelley for all he did to shepherd the new nickname selection process.

"I appreciate all that you endured to date and wish you nothing but health and happiness in your post-UND years!" Willert wrote.

Richard Hilber has attended UND and said in an email the new name had a "fabulous luster" to it.

On the other hand, Adam Thompson, who along with several others didn't disclose his connection to the school, expressed displeasure and said Fighting Hawks was generic.

Terry McManus also was unhappy and sent a seemingly sarcastic email, saying he was offended by the new name.

"...I expect that upon receipt of this letter you will reconvene your committee of the mindless to come up with something not as demeaning, abrasive, disrespecting and just plain offensive as the Fighting Hawks," he said.

Aaron Larsen and Nels Knutson didn't specify their connection to UND but also sent their own messages of disapproval. Alumnus Dwight Geisler said it would be "some time" before he would consider donating to the university.

Glenn Mitzel sent Kelley a post from the fan message board SiouxSports.com that called the nickname decision a "detachment from reality" and a "failure," including a link to a website selling shirts emblazoned with Fighting Hawks as an acronym for "how about we keep Sioux."

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A logo to accompany the Fighting Hawks name will be developed once a designer is hired and is slated for completion next summer. Until then, UND will continue to play with an interlocking "ND" logo as has been the case since the Fighting Sioux logo was retired.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS
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