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Chris Murphy, Published June 18 2013

Gophers AD: Hopes of NDSU-Minnesota football revival are bleak

Moorhead - University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague would love for his school to play North Dakota State in football, but he isn’t about to go to war with the Big Ten Conference over it.

In late April, Big Ten athletic directors reached an internal agreement to stop scheduling FCS teams – like NDSU – starting in 2016.

“It is primarily television pressuring and wanting the Big Ten to provide games that are (Football Bowl Subdivision) versus FBS teams,” Teague said Tuesday at the Gopher Road Trip’s Moorhead stop at the Courtyard by Marriot. “That’s understandable. They pay us a lot of money, and it’s just the desire of television that they want us to do that. That was their message to the Big Ten.”

After just finishing his first full year as the Gophers athletic director, Teague is trying to be a team player with his new conference.

“I’d love to play North Dakota State,” Teague said. “But I have to be a good member of the Big Ten and go along with what we’re doing.”

Since moving to FCS in 2004, NDSU has played the Gophers three times. The Bison lost 10-9 in 2006, won 27-21 in 2007 and won 37-24 in 2011.

For Teague, wanting to play the Bison again and paying the bills don’t often coincide with one another.

“We operate in a world now in college athletics where we have to balance a budget,” Teague said. “(Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany) needs to go out and redo our television contracts with ABC, ESPN, Big Ten Network, and we’ve got to be a very good partner with them or we aren’t going to get the revenue we need to compete.”

According to Teague, he isn’t sure whether FCS teams will ever be on FBS schedules again or how he feels about it.

“I’m in-between on the matter,” Teague said. “I understand the heartache at FCS schools, but we don’t live in a vacuum, and we have to be part of a league and a good partner with television. I don’t know what will happen.”

Teague wanted to assure fans that there is a bigger picture toward the success of the program when talking dollar signs. It isn’t all about filling higher-up’s pockets.

“I know it sounds money-oriented, but it is what it is,” Teague said. “Balancing our budget is tough. We generate 95 percent of what we balance. We get very little from the university. We have to really fight and claw to do that. We are competing in a league that is very tough with competitors that are way ahead of us with facilities and things like that.”

Teague has had an eventful first year with the Gophers, but he’s happy to be in Minnesota.

“Being in Minnesota and being part of a great athletic department,” Teague said when asked what was the best part of his first year as AD. “Meeting great donors, great alumni and great people in the state of Minnesota.”

As for the hardest part:

“The public relations side is unlike any other at this job and this state, because we are the only Division I school in the state and there’s a lot of attention,” Teague said. “We get a microscope that’s different from any other places I’ve been, even at flagship institutions.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548