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Faison pushes to restore UND-NDSU rivalry

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Faison pushes to restore UND-NDSU rivalry
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GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison is continuing his push to restore the UND-North Dakota State football rivalry with games in both Fargo and Grand Forks.


According to e-mails obtained by the Herald, Faison implored NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor last week to sign on to a home-and-home series, despite Taylor’s insistence that UND only come to Fargo for a monetary guarantee.

“UND’s efforts over these past four years have been to get the football series renewed between our schools,” Faison wrote in his e-mail to Taylor. “It had nothing to do with a guarantee. It has been about bringing an athletics competition that the whole state has looked forward to.”

Faison continued, saying UND would play NDSU in Fargo on September 19, 2015 — a previously discussed date — for no guarantee, “knowing that you will do the right thing and return the game to Grand Forks on any one of seven alternative dates I have given you in earlier e-mails.”

Those dates include possible games in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

“Just as you were able to work out a home-and-home series recently with Weber State, there should be no reason why we cannot get this same thing done for our series,” Faison wrote to Taylor. “You even have a draft contract that we sent you in January of 2013. . . that could help frame getting this done in short order.”

UND and NDSU haven’t played in football since 2003, when NDSU left the North Central Conference to begin its transition to NCAA Division I status. UND remained Division II and declined to continue the rivalry that dates back to 1894.

When UND started its transition to Division I in 2008, it made attempts at renewing the rivalry, but has been unsuccessful.

In 2011, the sides appeared close to signing a contract to play one game in Fargo in 2015 and one in Grand Forks in 2017.

According to an e-mail obtained by the Herald, Taylor contacted Faison in April 2011, and the two figured out dates that worked for both schools for games in 2015 and 2017. Faison responded to Taylor planning to work out the fine details such as tickets, start times and media strategy for an announcement.

No announcement came, however.

When Faison e-mailed Taylor a rough draft of a contract in January 2013, Taylor counter-proposed that UND come to Fargo for both games in 2015 and 2017.

“A lot has changed since 2010 with our ticket demands and revenue number we need to generate out of football,” Taylor wrote. “We would still be willing to offer you a guarantee for 2015 and 2017.”

Faison responded to that e-mail saying that arrangement would not work for UND and again asked for a home-and-home contract.

Taylor wrote back: “I am surprised you are going to turn down a rather significant and somewhat unprecedented guarantee for a bus trip game for as much as $190,000 for one game or $380,000 for a two game guarantee but understand you have all discussed this and are in agreement on this.”

Taylor again e-mailed Faison on May 8, this time dropping his guarantee to $125,000 to play a single game in the Fargodome on September 19, 2015.

“I know in my e-mail I mentioned a higher guarantee but that was based on both 2015 and 2017 games,” Taylor wrote. “If you would consider a two game guarantee I will consider different options on the guarantee close to what I had mentioned in my previous e-mails.”

Faison again responded by asking for the home-and-home series.

Despite the apparent deadlock between the two athletic directors, Faison indicated that both schools want to play the game.

“I know we both want to see the renewal of the series, so let’s get it done,” Faison wrote.

Brad Elliott Schlossman
Schlossman is in his 11th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2014, he was named one of the top three beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.
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