MILWAUKEE -- Marquette will keep its Golden Eagles nickname after all.
Following months of controversy, the school said Wednesday that 54 percent of voters picked the Golden Eagles while 46 percent chose the Hilltoppers, the school's old nickname. About 23,000 Marquette students, alumni and staff voted.
"We did give the people a choice. They want tradition," said Marquette president, the Rev. Robert A. Wild.
Last year, two Marquette trustees offered to give the school $1 million each if it returned the nickname to Warriors, which was changed in 1994 because it was insensitive to American Indians.
The school rejected the trustees' offer and this spring
announced a switch from Golden Eagles to Gold, which was strongly opposed by students and alumni because they weren't consulted.
The board relented May 11 and opened the issue to a vote, which was held in two phases. The first phase eliminated eight of the 10 options -- Blue and Gold, which was Marquette's first nickname from 1892-1916, Explorers, Golden Avalanche, Golden Knights, Saints, Spirit, Voyagers and Wolves.
Marquette said Wednesday the Golden Eagles name also led the Hilltoppers in the first phase of the voting. Hilltoppers was connected with school athletics from 1917 until it was changed to Warriors in 1954. It was first used because the original Marquette building was built on top of a hill.
People cast nearly 5,600 write-in votes during the first round, including 3,264 for Warriors, even though Marquette officials said they wouldn't consider votes for that nickname valid.
"We know this discussion hasn't been perfect, but with the successful vote behind us, it is our sincere hope that we can now move forward together, especially as we enter the Big East Conference on July 1," board chairman John Bergstrom said in a statement.
Student government president Alex Hermanny, a member of the school's nickname advisory committee, said the university hoped to develop a new logo as soon as possible but probably won't decide on a new mascot until after the school year starts this fall.