For roughly 80 years, the University of North Dakota embraced the nickname of “Fighting Sioux” for their athletics program as a tribute and an honor to all of the Sioux tribes as the university saw them as great warriors and strong willed people.
Four years ago, the NCAA made serious threats to the university stating that if the nickname of Fighting Sioux was not retired, or honored by all three Sioux tribes in North and South Dakota, then severe consequences would be taken against the athletics department which would ultimately diminish the competitive nature of it.
With the University making the transition then to become full division one President Robert Kelley and Athletic Director Brian Faison had no choice but be the “bad guys” and retire the Sioux name as of January 1st, 2012. However, at the same time, the North Dakota legislature was in the process of making a state law where the university could not drop the nickname and logo. So with being just the University of North Dakota for three weeks at the start of 2012, the Fighting Sioux name was back, or so all of us thought.
With the NCAA implying many sanctions against the university’s athletics program if they did not change the name, it simply needed to be done. If the Fighting Sioux name was to continue to be recognized, the university would not be able to grant any athletic scholarships to any athlete playing for, or coming into the university. Along with that, this year’s NCAA men’s hockey regional in Fargo would never be able to happen. The NCAA would not allow UND to participate in any NCAA sanction tournaments or host any NCAA sanctioned events like this year’s regional in Fargo.
It wasn’t until the NCAA tournament that year where losing the name became a reality. New hockey jerseys were unveiled, which are the team’s current jerseys right now. From that point on, it was simply the University of North Dakota. It was an ear sore for everyone at first, but as I look around the Ralph and many other places I see UND fans, they have accepted this and realize that the
university is still the university and they are still the same athletic teams on the ice, field, and court. It is still the Kelly Green and White we are all used to seeing every weekend, every game, every season. Just because there isn’t a name or a logo anymore, doesn’t mean the history and tradition of it is dead.
You can hear that during the end of the National Anthem at every home hockey game.
Fans for many generations will be upset about everything that happened with the name and logo, but these fans should be happy that they had the greatest name and logo in college sports and that they are fortunate enough to watch these great teams play, or for the athletes, play for these great teams.
As for now, it is in the best interest of the university to move on from the nickname and logo, but do not jump to find a new one just because the sanctions have finally been lifted. Simply being the University of North Dakota is probably the only thing that will ever be accepted and I think it is time for the university to realize that.