BISMARCK, N.D. – From "Amber Waves" to "Zombies," the list of potential new nicknames for University of North Dakota athletic teams ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous.
UND released a list of nearly 1,200 potential new nicknames Monday night, from which a committee will make a short list of finalists that will go to a public vote, likely sometime this year, school spokesman Peter Johnson said Tuesday.
State residents voted overwhelmingly in 2012 to dump UND's "Fighting Sioux" nickname, which had been in place since the 1930s. The NCAA considered it hostile and abusive, and it failed to get the endorsement of one of the state's two namesake tribes. The state Legislature put a moratorium on replacing the nickname until this year.
Among the more popular nickname suggestions were "North Dakota" — essentially no nickname at all — and "Flickertails," the name of a ground squirrel. Many proposals also retained the word "Fighting," including the "Fighting Farmers" and other monikers with Norwegian or aviation themes. UND's flight school is considered one of the best in the nation.
Among the more humorous suggestions were the "Barn Cats," ''Flying Monkeys" and "Sugar Beatles." And an apparent fan of the rival North Dakota State University Bison apparently thought "Baby Bison" would be fitting.
The school also released names that had been excluded because they were profane, their domain names weren't available or they would have conflicted with NCAA policy. Johnson said releasing the profane names might elicit complaints, but the school wanted the process to be as transparent as possible.
Among the excluded names were those with American Indian-themes and "Fighting Sue," a homophonic play on the old nickname.
"Roughriders" and "Rough Riders" were popular suggestions that were excluded for reasons that weren't immediately clear. Both were meant to highlight the state's links to President Theodore Roosevelt, who ranched in the North Dakota Badlands. The Rough Riders was a cavalry unit he led during the Spanish-American War.
Johnson said he expected the nickname committee to settle on fewer than 10 finalists, but that it hasn't been determined how long that will take. The committee, which is being advised by branding consultant Padilla CRT, will base its selections on a list of "desired attributes" that range from being unique and inspiring to being easy to pronounce and to represent with a mascot.
UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and American Indian head logo were retired in June 2012, after which the Legislature enacted a three-year moratorium on a new moniker to provide for a cooling-off period for those still upset over losing the old nickname. That despair is still evident, with "Fighting Sioux" and "Sioux" appearing thousands of times on the list of nicknames not being considered.