NDSU interim athletic director says Taylor spearheaded renewing UND football games

North Dakota State interim athletic director Prakash Mathew, middle, talks Friday at the Fargodome about the renewal of the NDSU-North Dakota football rivalry. He was joined by head football coach Chris Kleiman, left, and director of sales and broadcasting Jeremy Jorgenson. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - The Nickel is permanently out of circulation. But the high stakes poker game known as the North Dakota State and University of North Dakota football game is back on the table.

The two schools announced an agreement Friday that will see UND coming to the Fargodome in 2015 and 2019. The teams previously played for the Nickel Trophy, but that will not be part of the upcoming games.

Renewing the series was in the discussion stages for several years, said NDSU interim athletic director Prakash Mathew, with all the legwork on NDSU’s end being done by former Athletic Director Gene Taylor.

“I’m happy Gene’s efforts have come to fruition,” Mathew said. “This is not something where Prakash Mathew came in and said, ‘Play the game.’ ”

Jeremy Jorgenson, NDSU director of broadcasting who has been handling scheduling details, said talks began escalating in the last year. They wrapped up in the last week, he said.


NDSU will provide UND with cash guarantees of $125,000 for the first game and $140,000 for the second. A buyout would cost UND $250,000 for each game. It would cost NDSU the amount of the guarantees.

The teams last played in 2003 with UND claiming a 28-21 overtime victory at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The series dissolved the following year when NDSU moved to Division I athletics while UND remained in Division II.

Mathew said the 2019 game was scheduled because that is a year FCS teams are able to play 12 regular-season games due to the way the scheduling calendar sets up.

The 2015 game became a possibility because NDSU had trouble finding either an FBS opponent or a highly ranked FCS team to play.

“(The year) 2015 was becoming an issue, so this process needed some finality because if it didn’t work out, we needed to move on to other options,” Jorgenson said.

Mathew said there have been no discussions about playing beyond 2019.

“I think it’s a great game for the state of North Dakota,” said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman, “but we’re also eight days from Iowa State and that’s where our focus is right now.”

UND has a 62-45-3 advantage in the series that dates back to 1894. The Nickel Trophy became part of the festivities in 1938. It has a buffalo on one side and a Native American on the other. UND retired its Sioux nickname two years ago.


“It’s not part of this tradition any longer,” Mathew said.

Moreover, it was handled by the Blue Key honor society groups on both campuses and UND no longer has a chapter. Mathew said it’s too early to talk about another type of traveling trophy.

The 2015 game is sure to generate heightened publicity, but Justin Swanson, NDSU’s director of marketing and promotions, doesn’t expect it to get out of hand with the student bodies.

“They might get a little more jazzed up, but I don’t think it will be a whole lot different than Montana coming in here this year,” Swanson said. “It seems maybe today’s students are more civil than when I went to school. It’s going to be fun to bring it back, but what will make it more enjoyable will be a whole new level of respect and civility between the two schools.”

The 2015 game will be played on Sept. 19 and the 2019 game is scheduled for Sept. 7.

“We had very little flexibility in our schedule,” Mathew said.



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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