Longtime football rivalry between North Dakota State, North Dakota scheduled to resume in 2015

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This Oct. 18, 2003 photos shows the North Dakota State offense ready to snap the ball against North Dakota during an NCAA football game in Grand Forks, N.D. The longstanding football rivalry between the schools that fell apart a decade ago is back. North Dakota State and University of North Dakota officials announced Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, that the schools will play Sept. 19, 2015, at the Fargodome in Fargo. The game was once billed as the longest-running rivalry in NCAA Division II football. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the University of North Dakota Athletics Department)


FARGO, North Dakota — A longtime football rivalry between North Dakota's largest colleges that fell apart a decade ago will resume next season, school officials announced Friday.

North Dakota State and North Dakota will play Sept. 19, 2015, at the Fargodome, which is NDSU's home field. The contract also includes a 2019 game in Fargo.

Bubba Schweigert, the first-year head coach at UND who previously served 15 years as an assistant, said school officials decided it was worth it to take two road trips in order to renew the rivalry.

"As I traveled around the region talking to some of our football alums, one of their fondest memories is playing against our rival North Dakota State," said Schweigert, a Zeeland native. "Too many young men have missed out on that opportunity over the last 11 years."

NDSU coach Chris Klieman, also in his first year, said it's a great game for the state and fans, but said his team had other things to talk about Friday.

"I'm just 30 minutes outside of practice," he said at a news conference. "We also are eight days away from playing Iowa State and that's where our focus is."

The game was once billed as the longest-running rivalry in Division II football. It crumbled when NDSU it moved up to Division I in 2003 and UND rejected NDSU's request for games in 2004 and 2005. UND joined Division I in 2008.

Athletic directors from the two schools talked many times in the last five years about resuming the series but had not been able to broker a deal. NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor left in June to take a newly created position of deputy director of athletics at Iowa.

Prakash Matthew, NDSU's interim athletic director, said he's happy that "Gene's offer came to fruition" and the Bison were able to fill out their schedule for 2015.

"It was important for us to find a sixth home game for next year, and adding a game in 2019 gives us a head start on what will be a 12-game season," Matthew said. "We don't know what the future holds for us at this point."

Matthew added Bison fans' and coaches' primary demand is scheduling games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

UND athletic director Brian Faison said the announcement is being greeted with mixed feelings because it's not a home-and-home arrangement.

"At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get it started again," Faison said, noting Schweigert and former UND players pushed for it. "Even if you take UND and NDSU out of it, for any player to have an opportunity to play in a rivalry game, there's something special about it."

UND will receive a cash guarantee of $125,000 for the 2015 game and $140,000 for the 2019 contest.

UND owns a 62-45-3 advantage in the series that dates to 1894, winning the last meeting in 2003.

The Nickel Trophy, which has gone to the victorious school since 1938, will be retired, Faison said. UND has been without a nickname since the Fighting Sioux logo was retired three years ago.

The two schools used to play in the Division II North Central Conference. NDSU, the three-time defending champion in the Football Championship Subdivision, is now in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. UND is a member of the Big Sky Conference.

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