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Bison need to find replacement game

FARGO -- It was strike three on Tuesday for Western Carolina showing up at North Dakota State for a football game with the Bison. The Catamounts bought out of the 2016 season opener -- the third time NDSU saw them disappear from the schedule.

North Dakota State players
FNS Photo by Michael Vosburg North Dakota State players take to the field following their win over Illinois State for the FCS Championship on Jan. 10, 2015, in Frisco, Texas.

FARGO - It was strike three on Tuesday for Western Carolina showing up at North Dakota State for a football game with the Bison. The Catamounts bought out of the 2016 season opener - the third time NDSU saw them disappear from the schedule.
NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said he received notice last month that the school was going to pay a buyout of $200,000. In its place, Western Carolina is playing an FBS game at Eastern Carolina, in which it will presumably get a guarantee higher than what it paid NDSU.
NDSU already has a road game at FBS University of Iowa and a home game against perennial FCS power Eastern Washington in ’16. Larsen said the Bison are looking for an FCS home game that would give them six for that season. Finding those games hasn’t been easy for NDSU in recent years, in light of its run of FCS national titles, which is now at four straight.
Still, Larsen said he doesn’t expect the FCS guarantee to be much different from years past. NDSU paid University of The Incarnate Word (Texas), Delaware State and Prairie View A&M (Texas), its past three non-conference home FCS opponents, at least a $190,000 guarantee.
“Most schools have an idea of what they need for a guarantee,” Larsen said. “Ours has gone up a little bit but I don’t think the fact we’re trying to fill a game will make it that much higher.”
NDSU and Western Carolina originally agreed in 2011 for a 2013 game at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The date of that game was rescheduled to an unspecified year because the Catamounts already had three FBS games on the slate. Later, instead of paying a $150,000 buyout, Western requested the game be moved to 2016.
Ironically, NDSU replaced Western Carolina in 2013 with Delaware State, which was part of some national notoriety when ESPN’s “College GameDay” pregame show came to Fargo.
Larsen, in his first year as the NDSU athletic director, said he is working with Jeremy Jorgenson, NDSU’s director of broadcasting, on the football schedule. Jorgenson had a similar role with former Bison athletic director Gene Taylor.
“Scheduling is near and dear to me,” Larsen said. “It’s important and Jeremy and I have met numerous times on what our plan is. … Football scheduling is always a difficult thing, especially when you come off being four-time champions.”
Larsen said the priority for an FCS non-conference opponent for 2016 would be a regional opponent. Since the athletic department would have a guarantee in the 2016 budget already, he said the $200,000 NDSU is getting from Western Carolina, which came in the form of a letter from WCU athletic director Randy Eaton, could be taken either as a savings or additional revenue.
“Depends on how you look at it,” he said.

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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