North Dakota State announces final schedule
FARGO — North Dakota State is going back to Ogden, Utah to complete its football schedule this fall. The Bison will play at Weber State on Sept. 6 and will have 12 regular-season games for the first time in school history.
The two-game contract with Weber mandates the Wildcats return to Fargo in 2015. New to this deal for NDSU: A higher buyout.
The school was burned by Montana State last season when the Bobcats paid the $100,000 contractual stipulation not to come to the Fargodome. The Bison eventually scheduled a game with Division II Ferris State (Mich.).
This time, it would cost Weber State $250,000, said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor.
“That’s a hefty price to pay for a school like Weber to get out of,” he said.
Taylor said his department floated the idea of a buyout as high as $500,000 to a few schools in discussions of a home-and-home contract. “But their legal counsel wouldn’t accept it,” he said.
The Weber State deal leaves NDSU with just one game to schedule for 2015. Weber will be the home opener on Sept. 12, one week after the Bison open the season at Montana.
NDSU has Sept. 19 and 26 open. The University of North Dakota lists Sept. 19 currently as an open date, but Taylor said he hasn’t talked with officials from UND in a while.
NDSU last played a home-and-home with Weber State in the first years of its Division I reclassification in 2004 and 2005, both resulting in Bison victories.
NDSU opens Aug. 30 at Iowa State and won’t play at home until Sept. 13 against Incarnate Word (Texas). Bison head coach Chris Klieman said a younger team was a big reason for the 12-game schedule — something the Bison have shied away from in past years when the NCAA, because of the way the calendar falls, allowed FCS schools to play 12.
NDSU, the three-time defending FCS champion, lost 24 seniors from last year’s team. But the Bison do return 13 starters in a schedule that also includes a Sept. 20 game in the Fargodome against Montana.
NDSU last played two Big Sky Conference teams in the 2010 playoffs when it beat Montana State 42-17 but lost at Eastern Washington 38-31 in overtime. The last time the Bison faced two Big Sky programs in the regular season was 2005, when they beat Weber 41-0 but lost at Montana State 20-17.
Temporary home still not settled for athletics
Although in small increments, NDSU has begun the process of cleaning out the Bison Sports Arena in preparation of the renovation that is slated to begin this spring. For instance, trophies were being packed up on Tuesday near the south foyer.
The athletic department still hasn’t settled on where it will conduct its base of operations during construction. Taylor confirmed one of the options is the former Alien Technology building just off of 19th Avenue North.
“We’re still negotiating,” he said. “We’re looking at as many options as we can come up with.”