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Janell Cole, Published February 04 2009

Legislative panel recommends killing bill requiring annual NDSU, UND football game

UPDATED 12:20 p.m.

BISMARCK – A legislative committee recommended this morning that the House kill a bill that would require an annual football game between North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.

Before voting 12-1 to give House Bill 1507 a do-not-pass recommendation, the House Education Committee amended it, converting it to a suggestion that the games be played, not a requirement. The amendment was offered at this morning’s hearing on the bill by one of the co-sponsors, Rep. Eliot Glassheim, D-Grand Forks.

At the hearing, an NDSU official assured legislators the games will return to the schedule some day.

“I can tell you with absolute certainty there will be another game,” said Keith Bjerke, vice president for university relations.

Bjerke and NDSU student body President Joe Heilman testified this morning against the bill, though Heilman said, “I really appreciate the intent.”

The games were once an annual highlight, but fell by the wayside when NDSU moved to Division I and UND remained a Division II school.

No one from UND testified. All of the supporting testimony came from three bill sponsors who are all Democratic-NPL legislators from Grand Forks.

Glassheim’s amendment replaces “requiring” with “encouraging” the two schools “to resume one of the greatest and oldest collegiate football rivalries” so as to “promote national recognition and statewide enthusiasm.”

Three other legislators listed as sponsors, Rep. Scot Kelsh, D-Fargo; Rep. Frank Wald, R-Dickinson, and Sen. JoNell Bakke, D-Grand Forks, did not testify at the hearing.