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NCAA puts a stop to NDSU 'Thunderstruck" intro video for playoffs

FARGO -- The North Dakota State football team isn't the only athletic entity scrambling for a game plan on Saturday, Dec. 10. The NDSU staff in charge of game day operations is also being put to the test.

The NCAA ruled North Dakota State can't play their team intro video for the Saturday quarterfinal playoff game against South Dakota State.David Samson / The Forum
The NCAA ruled North Dakota State can't play their team intro video for the Saturday quarterfinal playoff game against South Dakota State.David Samson / The Forum

FARGO - The North Dakota State football team isn't the only athletic entity scrambling for a game plan on Saturday, Dec. 10. The NDSU staff in charge of game day operations is also being put to the test.

The NCAA, through a memo to the NDSU athletic department dated Dec. 5 that clarified its stance from prior action, outlined a new policy in one paragraph that essentially banned NDSU from its "Thunderstruck" team intro video.

Justin Swanson, NDSU's assistant director of athletics for marketing and fan engagement, said his department became aware of the NCAA's stance on videoboard content last Saturday morning before the second-round playoff game against the University of San Diego. He said NDSU athletics convinced the NCAA site representative that it needed more time to adjust its game day routine and was allowed a one-game reprieve.

Swanson said NDSU will still be allowed to play the audio and air the live footage of the team coming out of the locker room on the Fargodome videoboards. The team's "tunnel walk" from the locker room to Gate City Bank Field will still be allowed.

"We're trying to decide what to do," Swanson said. "We're trying to get creative here."

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The lights-out presentation with the AC/DC song has become a cherished game day staple for Bison fans over the years. It began over a decade ago in the early years of Craig Bohl's tenure as the head coach.

"It's been tremendously negative," Swanson said of the feedback. "I think everyone is disappointed, from the coaches to the staff to the fans. It's part of game day, it's not disruptive or demeaning to anyone. To take that away is a head scratcher."

Attempts to reach two NCAA staff members were not immediately successful.

The change in policy, in the information that Swanson said he was able to gather, came from the NCAA Championships and Alliances, which is in charge of the NCAA championships like the FCS playoffs. Swanson didn't know why the change was made.

Specifically, the NCAA memo dictated all videoboard content should only be the content provided by Van Wagener Sports and Entertainment and the NCAA.

"Host institutions should not be using their normal regular-season videoboard content (including team introduction videos, etc.)," read the memo, sent from Randy Buhr of the Championships and Alliances operations.

An email was sent from The Forum to Buhr asking for further details.

Mike Kern, the associate commissioner for the Missouri Valley, said Valley commissioner Patty Viverito became aware of the change last Saturday morning when she was in Brookings, S.D., for the Villanova at SDSU second-round game.

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"We really don't know when it was decided, or when it happened," Kern said. "But we're obviously disappointed that it appears to have been communicated late. I've been to games at Montana, too, and what they do there is special for the subdivision, like what happens at the Fargodome. We certainly respect how the NCAA arrived at its decision, but hope we can provide input so it returns to the way it was."

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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