FARGO — North Dakota State is one of the predetermined preliminary round sites for the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs, the Division I Football Committee announced Thursday, April 8.

The 16-team playoff field, which includes 10 automatic bids and six at-large teams, is scheduled to be announced at 10:30 a.m. April 18 on ESPNU.

“You want to give your team the best opportunity to be successful," said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. "If we are selected in the field, playing at home in the Fargodome, I’ll take that to going on the road any day.”

The predetermined sites were chosen due to health and safety protocols for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Four Missouri Valley Football Conference sites were selected: NDSU, the University of North Dakota, Missouri State and South Dakota State.

"I think we can do it in a safe way," Larsen said of hosting.

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Eight of the 14 sites will be selected to host first-round games that are slated to start on the weekend of April 24, while 12 of the 14 will be in contention to host the quarterfinals and semifinals. The FCS national title game is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 16 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The title game is set to be televised on ABC.

Larsen said there is potential that a site could host a playoff game that doesn't involve its home team. That is more likely in the later rounds if there are early-round upsets.

"When you put in to host, the understanding is that you’re putting in to host all the rounds and there is an outside chance that you could potentially host a game that your team doesn’t play in," Larsen said.

For its championships, the NCAA is allowing venues to have fans at 25% of full capacity. For the Fargodome, that would mean around 4,500 fans, Larsen said, for potential FCS playoff games.

NDSU, UND, Missouri State and SDSU are all tied for first place in the MVFC standings with 4-1 league marks and all four have a chance to earn the league's automatic bid. NDSU plays at Northern Iowa and Missouri State hosts Youngstown State on Saturday, April 10. SDSU and UND won't play this upcoming weekend due to cancellations.

The No. 2-ranked Bison (5-1) are scheduled to host SDSU on April 17 to close out the regular season.

Compared to past seasons, Larsen said the minimum guarantee for each round was removed for this year. If the Bison do host a playoff game, Larsen added the projected payment to the NCAA would be around 20-25% of what that total has been in recent history.

Below is the complete list of sites:

  • Newark, Delaware: Delaware
  • Cheney, Washington: Eastern Washington
  • Jacksonville, Alabama: Jacksonville State
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia: James Madison
  • Kennesaw, Georgia: Kennesaw State
  • Orono, Maine: Maine
  • Springfield, Missouri: Missouri State
  • Murray, Kentucky: Murray State
  • Grand Forks, North Dakota: North Dakota
  • Fargo, North Dakota: North Dakota State
  • Huntsville, Texas: Sam Houston
  • Brookings, South Dakota: South Dakota State
  • Villanova, Pennsylvania: Villanova
  • Ogden, Utah: Weber State