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Poll indicates residents want UND-NDSU rivalry kept out of state law

When it comes to UND and North Dakota State University playing each other in sports, a new poll indicates North Dakotans don't want the law to require it. The poll, commissioned by Forum Communications Co. and conducted by the UND's College of Bu...




When it comes to UND and North Dakota State University playing each other in sports, a new poll indicates North Dakotans don’t want the law to require it.

The poll, commissioned by Forum Communications Co. and conducted by the UND’s College of Business and Public Administration, found 76 percent of respondents would not support an athletic rivalry between the schools being mandated by law.

Eleven percent reported they would be in favor of the mandate while the remaining 13 percent had no response.


From Sept. 26 to Oct. 3, the poll asked a random sampling of adults aged 18 or older via landline or cellphone if they were for or against the mandate. The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.

The two schools play each other in some sports, but their football rivalry has been on an 11-year hiatus. That will come to an end with a game scheduled between UND and NDSU in 2015.


UND Associate Professor Robert Wood assisted in conducting the poll and said the results changed very little across the demographics when it comes to location, age, education and political party.

“It’s really clear,” Woods said. “This would be a politician’s dream to have this kind of distribution on any policy issue. The indication from the voters is absolutely crystal clear.”

Those kinds of results are a “rare phenomenon” with most public opinions falling into two types, according to Wood. The first is the non-opinion where the public is divided and there isn’t one clear preference. The second and most common is a divisive opinion, which usually involves two options that have similar amounts of support.

The rivalry poll results are considered a consensus opinion, which means the public strongly favors one option.

The results shouldn’t be taken as the public being against the rivalry, Woods said.


“People may very well think it’s an important element and like the fact that they play, but it seems kind of ridiculous to get the government involved,” he added.

Previous bills

The results mirror opposition to a bill introduced several years ago that sought to mandate a yearly football game between the two schools.

In 2009, then state Rep. Weezie Potter, D-Grand Forks, authored the bill.  

At the time, Potter told the Herald she had been approached by constituents asking for a bill that would bring the football rivalry back.

UND and NDSU’s football rivalry began in 1894 and continued until 2003. The next year, NDSU moved up to NCAA Division I athletics. UND followed suit, announcing in 2006 it was going Division I.

Potter’s bill received a do-not-pass recommendation from the House’s education committee. After being amended to “encourage” a yearly game, it was killed by the House.

Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, publically mentioned in 2010 bringing the bill back after football games failed to happen.


Last year, a Minnesota lawmaker attempted something similar, that time between UND and the University of Minnesota. If it had passed, the bill would have provided the University of Minnesota with $800,000 in state funds every year the two schools play.

Minnesota state Rep. Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, said at the time he drafted the bill as a statement.

Bills of this kind aren’t unheard of in other states. For example, state law mandates Colorado State and Colorado play each other each year.



Oct. 9: Measure 1, rights to life.

Oct. 10: Measure 3, abolish Board of Higher Education.

Today: UND/NDSU rivalry.


Oct. 12: Measure 5, conservation funding.

Oct. 13: U.S. House for North Dakota.

Oct. 14: North Dakota races for agriculture and tax commissioners.

Oct. 15: Measure 6, each parent is a fit parent.

Oct. 16: Measure 7, pharmacy requirement.

Oct. 17: Measure 8, school classes start after Labor Day.

Oct. 18: Marijuana.

Oct. 19: Oil.


Oct. 20: Same-sex marriage.


Poll methodology

Poll results are based on telephone interviews of 505 randomly selected adults living in North Dakota and likely to vote Nov. 4. Polling was conducted from Sept. 26 through Oct. 3. In order to provide a probability-based representative sample, both landline and cellular phone numbers were included. The sample yields a 95 percent confidence level of a plus or minus 5 percent margin of error.

Source: UND College of Business and Public Administration



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