FARGO — The season isn’t over after all for the North Dakota State football team. The Bison are about to book another road trip, only this one is to the East Coast.
President Donald Trump invited NDSU to the White House in honor of its seventh NCAA Division I FCS national championship in the past eight years. The announcement was made Friday afternoon by North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven.
Details are still being worked out, NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said, but he called the invite a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“And this is not just about the 2018 team,” Larsen said. “This is about the long history of Bison football. This is rare air. Not a lot of teams get a chance to do this on the biggest stage there is.”
NDSU has won 15 national championships since 1965, the latest a 38-24 victory against Eastern Washington last month in Frisco, Texas. The latest run of titles, which included an unprecedented five straight, is the greatest dynasty in NCAA football history.
NDSU will be the first FCS football team to be invited to the Oval Office since Youngstown State in 1995. The Penguins won four championships in seven years in the 1990s.
“When you start talking about an invite to the White House, a lot of people have helped us along the way,” said NDSU head coach Matt Entz.
Larsen lauded Hoeven for doing a lot of work behind the scenes. NDSU currently is working with Andrew Giuliani, the public liaison assistant to Trump. He is the son of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“Historically, one of the great honors that comes along with winning a sports championship is to receive an invitation from the President to visit the White House,” Hoeven said in a statement.
Just how the trip will be paid for is still being worked out, Larsen said. He hopes to have the financials and the traveling party finalized by the middle to the end of next week.
He said the invitation would include former Bison head coach Chris Klieman and the assistants who went with Klieman to Kansas State.
“I think everybody who was a part of the team last year,” Larsen said. “They were part of that opportunity, so if it works out for him … but certainly he has a lot on his plate right now at Kansas State.”
Entz said the program will work around its off-season workout schedule to accommodate the White House. Ideally, he said, the best time would be before spring football begins at the end of March.
“This is one of those opportunities you make fit into your calendar somehow, some way,” Entz said.