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No-nickname option still alive in North Dakota; its backers rally at UND

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The debate over what to call the University of North Dakota's sports teams is heating up as it gets narrowed down. On Friday dozens of protesters rallied in support of continuing to call the teams simply "North Dakota."

WDAY reports about 40 people showed their support for the North Dakota nickname. University President Robert Kelley announced earlier Friday he will consider adding that to a list of finalists that will be put to a public vote.

The naming committee did not include North Dakota in the options it sent to Kelley this week, sparking the dissent. The committee narrowed the list to five choices:

  • Fighting Hawks
  • Nodaks
  • North Stars
  • Roughriders
  • Sundogs

The list was passed onto President Kelley who can add or remove names before the final list is put up for a vote. The Associated Press reports he sent an email to the campus community saying the no nickname, North Dakota option was in the community's best interest, but adding that he is reviewing the options.

KYFR reports the final vote will happen when students come back in the fall. The exact process has yet to be determined, but state lawmakers put a three-year moratorium on choosing the new nickname.

The school was formerly called the Fighting Sioux, a name that was retired in 2012 after a long and contentious legal battle. The sports teams are now going by UND and North Dakota.

North Dakota was the most popular nickname proposal when the public submitted suggestions in the spring. The decision to remove the nickname didn't sit well with the hockey community, according to the Grand Forks Herald, with alumni who play pro hockey tweeting their disapproval.

Even with Kelley's announcement, some protesters tell the Grand Forks Herald they're not too pleased he didn't make a final decision.

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