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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 16 2013

Montana State stuns NDSU athletic director by pulling out of 2013 football game

FARGO – The athletic director at North Dakota State is not happy with Montana State. Gene Taylor on Saturday said the Bobcats have opted to buy out of next September’s football game at the Fargodome, leaving the Bison scrambling to find an 11th opponent.

“Really angry, really disappointed,” Taylor said. “Stunned. I just don’t understand it.”

He said MSU will pay the $100,000 exit fee to play another game, which is presumed to be against Football Bowl Subdivision Southern Methodist. Taylor said the final decision was made after Friday’s announcement that the Bison will play Delaware State on Sept. 21.

NDSU opens the season at Kansas State on Aug. 31, but now has Sept. 7 and 14 open and a late November date, although Taylor said the Bison would prefer to keep that open.

The University of North Dakota already has those dates filled, so UND is not an option.

“It’s really disappointing for our fan base,” Taylor said. “We uphold our end of the bargain … then they tell us in late February. It’s not how we do business here.”

It’s the second time MSU has bowed out of a game in Fargo. In January of 2007, the Bobcats bought out of the tail end of a home-and-home contract that had the Bison playing in Bozeman in 2007. That only cost MSU $10,000, although Taylor said at the time that figure was being negotiated.

It turned into the 2013 game that was signed in 2009 when NDSU announced it was playing the Bobcats in 2013 and the University of Montana in 2014 and 2015. Now only Montana is coming to Fargo.

“I could understand if it were two years ago,” Taylor said. “But in February, that really bothers me. If I’m the commissioner, I don’t know if any of our schools would have done it, but it’s interesting it’s been done twice on us from Big Sky schools.”

NDSU also had a game with Georgia Southern in 2011 bought out.

“It’s disappointing for FCS football when you finally have good inter-conference games like this,” Taylor said. “Georgia Southern did it. Maybe Montana State will have the pleasure to come back to our place and get welcomed by the hospitality of our fans. It is very frustrating to try and do this with conferences and for them to pull out.”

Taylor said the $100,000 buyout will go toward another opponent, which leaves NDSU not in the best of bargaining situations. The Bison are paying Delaware State a $200,000 package, and it’s possible the replacement for Montana State could go past that.

“Now we’re in a tailspin, and there’s not a lot out there right now,” Taylor said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do. Maybe we can talk somebody who wasn’t going to play us to play us with a little extra cash.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia