UND, NDSU to play in 2015, 2019, ending 12-year hiatus
The UND-North Dakota State University football rivalry is back.
The schools will play in games in Fargo on Sept. 19, 2015, and Sept. 7, 2019, ending a 12-year hiatus that began after the 2003 contest when NDSU moved to NCAA Division I status.
“I want our football players to have the full experience of being a UND football player and, to me, that includes playing North Dakota State,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “True rivalry games are a big part of college football. You see Iowa State playing Iowa, Michigan State playing Michigan, Auburn playing Alabama and so on. There is no reason North Dakota and North Dakota State should not be playing.
“As I traveled around the region talking to some of our football alums, one of their fondest memories is playing against our rival North Dakota State. Too many young men have missed out on that opportunity over the last 11 years.”
UND will receive a guarantee of $125,000 for the first game and $140,000 for the 2019 game. Both will be played in the Fargodome. UND will be allotted 500 tickets and have the option of bringing its band and cheerleaders.
The historic Nickel Trophy, which depicts a Bison on one side and a Native American on the other, will not be up for grabs when the teams meet in the future. UND got rid of its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo two years ago and the trophy will be retired.
“That needs to be historic,” UND Athletic Director Faison said of the Nickel Trophy. “We’ll recognize it appropriately. Moving forward, that won’t be part of the new series.”
The teams, who began playing in 1894, have not met since 2003 when NDSU moved to NCAA Division I and UND stayed in NCAA Division II.
UND, citing the Division II playoff selection format which hurt teams for playing Division I opponents, declined to continue the series in 2004.
The university announced it was making the move to Division I in June 2006, but the programs continually deadlocked on the terms of renewing the rivalry.
Earlier this month, Faison was at a golf outing with several former players, who expressed their desire to start the series again.
“A good majority of them had the opportunity to play in that rivalry game,” Faison said. “It meant a lot to them and they hated for the current players to not have that opportunity.”
Soon after that, Faison told the Herald that he was willing to sign a deal with NDSU that did not guarantee a game in Grand Forks.
Negotiating with NDSU interim Athletic Director Prakash Mathew, Faison and NDSU were able to reach an agreement under those conditions. NDSU says the framework for the deal was drawn up by former Athletic Director Gene Taylor, who left for a position in the Iowa athletic department on Aug. 1.
“Gene worked hard to find a solution that would be agreeable to both schools,” Mathew said. “I am happy that Gene’s offer has come to fruition.”
Faison said that the schools haven’t talked about any possible meetings after 2019 at this point.
“We will be working beyond 2019,” he said. “I’d certainly like to see this progressed into the future. They will have a new AD on board in a while. We’ll have some time. When he or she gets on board and clears the deck, we’ll see.”
Back and forth
The two sides appeared close to a deal in 2011 and 2012, drawing up framework to play in Fargo in 2015 and in Grand Forks in 2017, but that fell through.
Faison sent Taylor a rough draft for a contract in January 2013 and January 2014, but Taylor began changing terms of the deal in January.
In an e-mail sent Jan. 24, Taylor told Faison that NDSU has to play six home games in 2017 and would not be able to play a road game against a Football Championship Subdivision team. He offered that both games be played in Fargo, but Faison declined.
In another email on Feb. 19, Taylor offered monetary guarantees of “$190,000 for one game or $380,000 for two games” in Fargo. Faison counter-offered different dates for a home-and-home series.
In May, Taylor changed that guarantee to $125,000 for a single game in Fargo in 2015, while drawing up framework for the deal, including number of tickets and sideline passes.
However, four days before leaving office, Taylor sent another email to Faison saying that a single game in Fargo would no longer work.
“I talked with our President and football coach,” Taylor wrote on July 28. “We are still going to hold to a two game deal in Fargo to get this started. For various reasons that I have mentioned before we feel that two games to start the series in Fargo is where we start. Since you can’t make another road game work in 2017 we will offer the September 19, 2015 in Fargo and another game in either 2018 or 2019 that works for you. We have options for both of those years.”
After discussions with Schweigert and former players, Faison accepted those terms.
“Our football student-athletes deserve the chance to play against North Dakota State and the game has been off the schedule for too long,” Schweigert said. “It is time to do whatever it takes to get the game back and if that means going down to Fargo a couple of times to renew this great rivalry, then that is something the football program, along with our administration, decided is necessary.”
Faison added: “It’s good to be at this point. We need to continue to work on extending the series out, but it’s good to at least get the thing started again.”