Every spring the University of North Dakota manages to grab national attention when its hockey team rises to the top as one of the best programs in the country.
In this year's college playoffs, UND is ranked No. 2, with a great shot at winning another national championship. The spotlight that shines down on the hockey powerhouse also illuminates another North Dakota oddity:
The school's sports programs do not have a mascot.
First, a little background: For decades, North Dakota's mascot was the Fighting Sioux. Three years ago, a battle of deeply invested sides -- groups heavily in favor of removing the mascot, and others insisting that it stay -- was finally ended when the state's Board of Education put the Fighting Sioux mascot to death.
For many UND supporters, the mascot's removal was an emotional issue, and one difficult to come to terms with. that resulted in the current situation: People who loved the Fighting Sioux mascot didn't want it replaced.
And so, three years later, no successor has been named.
But, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the school's "cooling-off period" to select a new one has come to an end.
The school has announced that nominations for new mascots will be accepted through April, and a vote of the top candidates will be held in May. If all goes according to a plan, the school will have a new mascot.
Among the possibilities, according to the WSJ, include "Roughriders" in honor of Teddy Roosevelt; "Nodaks," as a tribute to residents of the state; "Pilots," due to North Dakota's prominent aviation and aerospace programs; and "Flames," which refers to an eternal flame burning on campus.
That will resolve the issue of operating without a mascot. But the controversy over doing away with the "Fighting Sioux" continues to linger, despite the passing of time. Dave Berger, who runs the North Dakota sports website SiouxSports.com, said that many fans would prefer not to insert a new mascot, although the school likely won't make that an option.
Berger told the WSJ the challenge will be choosing a mascot that is evocative of the state, prideful and original.
"We don’t want to be just another animal or weather event," he said.