FARGO — The last time Glenn Caruso was part of a football team that was readying for kickoff at the Fargodome, he was a Division II assistant at North Dakota State. In 2025, he’s scheduled to lead a Division I FCS team onto Gate City Bank Field.
The news of the University of St. Thomas playing NDSU in 2025 was just part of a banner future schedule release day for the Bison. NDSU will play at the University of Oregon in 2028, a makeup of sorts for the game last fall that was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In St. Thomas, which is beginning a Division I schedule this fall in making a transition from Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to the FCS Pioneer League, the Bison will host a team just 3 1/2 hours down the road in St. Paul.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to schedule some really good teams,” Caruso said. “Fortunately we have a lot of them in this part of the country. Whether it’s scheduling for next year or a few years down the road, we have to be thoughtful and intentional. We’ve never been a program that shies away from competition and NDSU is certainly the gold standard.”
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Caruso and his wife, Rachael. Both are NDSU graduates; Rachael getting her undergraduate degree and Glenn a graduate degree.
Glenn was an NDSU assistant from 1997-2002. He’s been the head coach at St. Thomas since 2008.
“It’s been thrilling for us to watch the growth in the past 20 years,” he said. “We’ve been blessed to have some very strong relationship ties from our time in Fargo with family and friends. Everytime we get a chance to go back, it’s not only a chance to see the growth of the Bison but the university as a whole. When we go back, we still stay attached to the program. It’s only a few hours away.”
NDSU announced a couple of games a few hours away — by airplane. It signed a home-and-home contract with East Tennessee State, with the Buccaneers hosting the season opener in 2024 and NDSU playing ETSU at the dome in 2026. ETSU won the Southern Conference as recently as 2018.
The Bison added Austin Peay for one game in 2026 at the Fargodome. The teams played one time previously in the 2008 season opener, with NDSU winning 41-6. Also, NDSU moved the Central Arkansas game scheduled for 2025 in Conway, Ark., to 2026, completing NDSU’s 2026 slate.
“Part of it was the timing of a lot of these happen to come together at the same time,” said Bison athletic director Matt Larsen. “These are things we’ve been working on since probably January or so. They all came to fruition at about the same time.”
NDSU will get a $675,000 guarantee from Oregon, up $25,000 from what it was going to be last fall. The two schools had initial conversations last fall on rescheduling, but the fact the Ducks played in the fall put NDSU talks on the backburner.
“Rescheduling wasn’t a hot button topic for them,” Larsen said. “Then it went back and forth and what dates work for us and what dates work for them.”
Speaking of dates, the NDSU and St. Thomas game is the last game of the regular season for NDSU, the result of North Dakota entering the Missouri Valley Football Conference and creating an odd-number setup. NDSU’s bye week will change from year to year.
“It filled a real need for us,” Larsen said. “You never want your bye week the last week of the season and from our perspective, and hopefully we’re in a position to be looking at the playoffs, we don’t want a bye that week. Fortunately, the Pioneer League was one that was open to their teams scheduling a game that final week and ultimately St. Thomas was interested in coming to the dome.”