North Dakota State Bison

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North Dakota State Bison
UniversityNorth Dakota State University
ConferenceSummit League (primary)
Missouri Valley Football Conference
Big 12 (wrestling)
NCAADivision I (FCS)
Athletic directorMatt Larsen (men)
LocationFargo, North Dakota
Varsity teams16 (8 men, 8 women)
Football stadiumFargodome
Basketball arenaScheels Center
Baseball stadiumNewman Outdoor Field
Softball stadiumTharaldson Park
Soccer stadiumDacotah Field
Other venuesBentson Bunker Fieldhouse
Fight songOn Bison
We are the Pride
ColorsGreen and yellow[1]

The North Dakota State Bison are the athletic teams of North Dakota State University (NDSU), which is located in the city of Fargo, North Dakota. The teams are often called the "Thundering Herd". The current logo is a bison.

Sports sponsored[edit]

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Soccer
Golf Softball
Track and field Track and field
Wrestling Volleyball
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

A member of the Summit League, North Dakota State University sponsors teams in eight men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned intercollegiate sports:[2] The football team competes as a member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The wrestling team competes as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference.

In the past, North Dakota State has been a member of the North Central Conference, the Great West Football Conference, and the United Soccer Conference. It has also been an independent.

National championships[edit]

The Bison have won twenty-nine NCAA national championships, both at the Division I and Division II levels.


Sport Association Division Year Opponent/Runner-up Score
Women's basketball (5) NCAA Division II 1991 Southeast Missouri State 81–74
1993 Delta State 95–63
1994 Cal State San Bernardino 89–56
1995 Portland State 98–85
1996 Shippensburg 104–78
Men's cross country (1) NCAA College 1972 South Dakota State 84–143 (-59)
Football (17) NCAA Division II (poll) 1965 Middle Tennessee State
Cal State Los Angeles
1968 San Diego State
1969 Montana
Division II (game) 1983 Central State (OH) 41–21
1985 North Alabama 35–7
1986 South Dakota 27–7
1988 Portland State 35–21
1990 IUP 51–11
Division I FCS 2011 Sam Houston State 17–6
2012 Sam Houston State 39–13
2013 Towson 35–7
2014 Illinois State 29–27
2015 Jacksonville State 37–10
2017 James Madison 17–13
2018 Eastern Washington 38–24
2019 James Madison 28–20
2021 Montana State 10–38
Softball (1) NCAA Division II 2000 Kennesaw State 3–1
Women's indoor track and field (1) NCAA Division II 2002 Saint Augustine's 67½–45
Wrestling (4) NCAA Division II 1988 Nebraska–Omaha 88–8134
1998 South Dakota State 112–78
2000 Central Oklahoma 91.5–75
2001 South Dakota State 98.5–91


The Bison have won two individual event championships, all at the Division I level.

Sport Association Division Year Champion Event
Men's Track and Field (2) NCAA Division I 2019 Payton Otterdahl Indoor Shot Put
Weight Throw


Individual sports[edit]


The Bison football team, which since 1993 played their home games at the Fargodome, was a dominant force in Division II. Through January 2022, they have won 17 NCAA National titles. Eight were at the Division II level (1965, 1968, 1969, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1990) before moving up to Division I-AA (now FCS) in 2004 where they have won nine national championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021). NDSU is the only team at any level of NCAA football to have won five straight national championships. The program was the winningest in the history of the NCAA Division II North Central Conference, with 17 outright championships and 27 total league football titles. The program has also been quite successful since moving up to the D1 FCS classification. In 2006 the Bison posted a 10–1 record that included a win over FBS Ball State. During a 2006 game against FBS Minnesota, NDSU led for much of the game, but a last-second field goal attempt was blocked by Minnesota, resulting in a 10–9 loss. The following season, the Bison won their first Great West Football Conference championship and achieved the number 1 ranking in major FCS polls for a majority of the season. During this season the 2007 Bison football team defeated FBS members Central Michigan University and the University of Minnesota. In 2010 the Bison defeated the FBS Kansas Jayhawks, 6–3, for their first win over a Big 12 program. The Bison won the 2011 FCS national championship, defeating Sam Houston State University, 17–6. The 2011 title was their ninth overall. The Bison returned to the FCS championship game in 2012 and soundly defeated Sam Houston State University in a rematch of the 2011 title game, 39–13. Expectations were high entering the 2013 season. The season commenced with a game against the Kansas State Wildcats, the reigning Big 12 Champions. The Bison took a quick lead, but let a 7–7 halftime score get away from them; trailing 21–7 in the third quarter. The Bison finished the game with an 18-play 80-yard drive that used 8+12 minutes, leaving 28 seconds on the clock for the Wildcats, trailing by 3. NDSU Linebacker Grant Olson intercepted the first pass attempt by the Wildcats, sealing their 7th win over FBS teams since their move to FCS. ESPN College GameDay broadcast an episode from Fargo. The Bison finished the season 15–0 with a victory over the Towson Tigers, 35–7. Despite a cast of new coaches, the 2014 Bison finished the season with a 15–1 record, including another win over Big 12 Iowa State and won their fourth consecutive national championship. ESPN College GameDay was broadcast from Fargo for the 2nd consecutive year.

In 2016, the Bison upset AP-ranked 13 Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.[4] This still stands as NDSU's most notable win, and one of the highest profile upsets in Division I football history. Despite the impressive win, the remainder of the season would not be like the previous years for the Bison. NDSU would give up the Dakota Marker for the first time since the 2009 season. They would also see their national title streak end at five after a loss to James Madison in the semifinals at the Fargodome, who would eventually win the National Championship that season.

In the 2017 season, NDSU would return to the title game and avenge their loss the previous season, defeating James Madison in Frisco 17-13. The 2018 season would see one of the Bison's most dominant seasons, especially since 2013, when the team went 15-0 for the second time in program history. The team only played one team in a one score game (the Dakota Marker game against #3 South Dakota State), and accomplished a score differential of 28.9 points). Before the team's eventual victory over South Dakota State in the FCS semifinals, coach Chris Klieman was announced as the next head coach at Kansas State. Klieman was allowed to finish out his season at NDSU, beating SDSU in the semis and then Eastern Washington in the National Championship game.

The 2019 season started a new leaf for NDSU, with Matt Entz being announced as the next head coach for the Bison after previously serving as the team's defensive coordinator the last several seasons. As far as the on-field product was concerned, it was one of the best in program history again. With Trey Lance at the helm for the Bison in his redshirt freshman season, NDSU achieved a 16-0 record for the first time in program history and for only the second time in Division I football history (1894 Yale being the only other program to reach the mark). This was highlighted by the National Championship game win against James Madison[5] in which NDSU won on a game-sealing interception in the redzone with under five seconds remaining. Unfortunately after the season ended, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the 2020 FCS season was postponed to the Spring of 2021. This wouldn't be the first unfortunate thing to happen to the school in that academic year, as the football team would have a very rare year in the team's history, going 7-3 in the shortened season. The Bison also ended their national championship streak of 3 titles (between 2018 and 2020) after they lost to eventual champion Sam Houston in the FCS quarterfinals[6].

The 2021 season could be categorized as a "return to their roots" type season for NDSU, after the team went 14-1. The team's only loss being in the Dakota Marker game in Brookings to 4th ranked SDSU. The Bison dominated their way to their ninth national championship, beating playoff rival James Madison in the semifinals in a close game,[7] and then beating Montana State in the title game 38-10[8].

However, in the 2022 season the Bison would stumble again. The team went 12-3, losing more than 1 game in a season for only the second time since 2011. NDSU lost their first game to an FBS opponent since losing to Minnesota in 2009, after they lost a three-point game at Arizona.[9] The blows would continue as the team not only did not reclaim the Dakota Marker (losing 23-21 at home to 2nd ranked South Dakota State), but would fall to the Jackrabbits again in the National Championship game.[10]

Men's Basketball[edit]

The Bison basketball program includes a men's and a women's team. The teams play at the Scheels Center inside the Sanford Health Athletic Complex (SHAC). They won five NCAA National Championships during the decade (1991, 1993–1996). The men's basketball team won an upset victory over the University of Wisconsin on January 21, 2006, potentially increasing its chances of being accepted into a conference. The Bison also upset Marquette University on their home court at their tournament, 64–60, on December 2, 2006.

On February 28, 2009, the Bison men's basketball team captured the Summit League regular-season championship, the school's first at the Division I level, by defeating Oral Roberts 75–72 in Tulsa, OK. Two weeks later, NDSU earned its first men's basketball NCAA berth by winning the Summit League Tournament played at Sioux Falls, SD. The Bison defeated Centenary 83–77 in the tourney quarterfinals, stopped Southern Utah 79–67 in the semifinals, and edged Oakland 66–64 in the championship game. The Bison traveled to Minneapolis for a first-round game with the defending national champions, the Kansas Jayhawks, and fell 84–74. NDSU's tournament appearance marked the first time in almost 35 years that a Division I men's program qualified for the tournament in its first season of eligibility.

2013 NDSU season highlights included a win over Notre Dame for their first ever win over an ACC team. NDSU advanced to the NCAA tournament for a 2nd time and received a #12 seed. They defeated #5 Oklahoma 80–75 in a second-round matchup of the NCAA basketball tournament and fell to San Diego State, one win short of the Sweet 16.

In 2014, NDSU won the Summit League Tournament and advanced to their 3rd NCAA basketball tournament as a #15 seed, eventually falling to #2 seed Gonzaga 86–76.
Several years later, the Bison men's team surprised the Summit League and won the conference tournament, advancing to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in program history. NDSU would be handed the 16 seed in the East, and was selected to play in the First Four. The Bison beat NC Central[11] in the program's second tournament win, before falling to top-seeded Duke in the first round[12].

The Bison appeared ready to repeat as champions in the Summit League in the 2019-20 season. They tied South Dakota State for the regular season title, and then won the Summit League tournament for the fifth time in program history.[13] Unfortunately, the NCAA tournament was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
NDSU would continue to appear in the conference tournament title game, but came up short in the 2020-21 season (loss to Oral Roberts[14]), the 2021-22 season (loss to South Dakota State[15]), and in the 2022-23 season (loss to Oral Roberts[16]).

Women's Basketball[edit]

North Dakota State's women's basketball team is the school's only basketball team to win a national championship at any level and is the school's only other program to win at least five national titles besides the football team. The women's basketball team was a dominant force in Division II throughout the 1990s, as the Bison won five Division II titles. However, since the school emerged from reclassification in 2008, the team has not accomplished much. The Bison have only made it past the quarterfinal round of the Summit League tournament three times. NDSU has also ended the season with a winning record only three times since entering Division I.
Recently, the Bison have started to change under head coach Jory Collins. In Collins' second season as Bison head coach, NDSU went 15-9 overall and 9-7 in Summit League play, as the program's third Division I season with a winning record. His time at NDSU has also featured 2 out of the program's 3 total Summit League tournament wins.


The Bison wrestling program had success under coach Bucky Maughan, winning four NCAA Division II team National Championships (1988, 1998, 2000, 2001). Maughan retired in 2011 after 37 years and his successor is two-time NCAA All-American Roger Kish. Kish led the 2013–14 NDSU to career highs in rankings and tournament placement since the Bison joined the Division I ranks. In 2013, NDSU earned its first D1 All American and four through 2015. The team is a member of the Big 12 Conference.

In 2023, the Bison earned their next highest ranking in their Division I era at No. 15 before losing to No. 10 Minnesota.


The 2008–2009 season was when the school first became fully eligible for Division I competition. In December 2008 NDSU's women's volleyball team captured the Summit League's regular season and tournament championships (doing so with a perfect league record) to become the first program at the school to earn a berth in a Division I NCAA tournament. The Bison dropped their opening round match to the University of Minnesota.[citation needed]


In the spring of 2009, the Bison women's softball team won the Summit League tournament in Macomb, Illinois, becoming the school's third team to appear in an NCAA tournament in the calendar year. In its opening game in May, the Bison upset 9th-ranked Oklahoma, 1–0, in an 11-inning game that spanned two days due to a weather delay. The Bison won the regional with victories over Tulsa, 3–2 and 4–1, to advance to the Super Regional (Sweet Sixteen) of the tournament, where they were eliminated.
Since that season, the Bison have reached nine more NCAA tournaments, including a streak of six straight tournaments from 2014-19. However, the team has not reached a Super Regional since 2009.
Recently, the Bison stumbled since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 season to abruptly end after just a month. NDSU has not reached the NCAA tournament since 2019, and has not won the Summit League regular season title since 2019.


The NDSU baseball team plays their home games at Newman Outdoor Field on the north side of campus. The team has not had a large amount of success compared to their Spring counterpart: NDSU's softball team. While the Bison won three North Central Conference titles while in Division II, after the school moved up to Division I in 2008 the team has only won the Summit League twice.
The Bison advanced to their first NCAA tournament in 2014 after winning the Summit League baseball tournament for the first time. However, they would go winless in their first national appearance. Later in 2021, NDSU would win the Summit League tournament for the second time in program history, upsetting Oral Roberts to advance to the program's second NCAA tournament appearance in Division I.[17] This time, the Bison found their first national tournament win in a 6-1 victory over Nevada at the Stanford Regional.
While the 2022 season did not see the Bison return to the NCAA tournament, the team did achieve yet another first. The team won the Summit League regular season title for the first time in program history,[18] finishing with a 17-5 record in conference play which was another high for the program. In the Summit League tournament, the team fell to fourth seeded Omaha to be eliminated from the tournament.[19]
The following season, 2023, the team hosted their first Summit League tournament. In that tournament, NDSU entered as the 2nd seed. The Bison lost to South Dakota State to start the tournament, beat Omaha, but lost to the Jacks again to be eliminated in the final elimination game for the second year in a row.


The North Dakota State Bison women's soccer team plays their home games at Dacotah Field nestled in between the school's training facility/basketball arena and the indoor track facility on the North side of campus.

The NDSU soccer program has only been in existence since 1995, when the program played their first season under coach Gordon Henderson in Division II. The team played at two different sites while in Division II. The Bison started at Cardinal Muench Seminary's field off of NDSU's campus. Then after the 1996 season, the team moved on campus for the first time playing on a field part of the Ellig Sports Complex on the northwest side of campus.

While in Division II, the team played in their first and only Division II tournament. In the 1999 season, the Bison placed second in the North Central Conference regular season. Since the conference did not have a full-league tournament, the top two teams were good enough to make the full Division II tournament. After that, the NCC started a conference tournament, in 2000 NDSU was the runner-up in the final game and missed the national tournament. Between that season and 2004, the Bison wouldn't finish high enough to make the conference tournament and did not see another Division II tournament. After the 2003 season, NDSU started their reclassification to Division I. During their reclassification years, the Bison started as Division I independents, joined the United Soccer Conference, and then finally joined the Summit League which has served as their conference of the future.

Starting in 2008, the Bison emerged from reclassification and finished 7th in the Summit League and missed the conference tournament. But then in 2009, the team made their first Summit League tournament, and lost in the championship game.

In 2010, the Bison women's soccer team achieved the program's first NCAA tournament bid with a victory over Western Illinois in the Summit League tournament final.[20]

Since that magical 2010 season, NDSU would make the conference tournament 8 consecutive seasons, which included 4 runner-ups. However, the team could not get over the hump of winning the final game and hasn't reached a Division I tournament since 2010.

Under current head coach Mike Regan, the Bison have made two Summit League tournaments in his 5 seasons in Fargo, including 3 straight seasons of missing the tournament.


"Thundar" is the official mascot of NDSU athletics. The mascot, which resembles the American Bison, comes from the term "thundering herd," a nickname given to NDSU athletic teams since changing its name from "Aggies" to "Bison" in 1919.[21] While some form of a "Bison Mascot" has been used at NDSU athletic events since the mid-1960s, "Thundar" did not become the official mascot of the university until 1991.[22]


NDSU athletics radio coverage rights are held by Radio FM Media with games also airing on the 24-station Bison Radio Network.[23] TV rights for the Bison are held by Forum Communications, a Fargo-based communications company that owns TV stations affiliated with ABC, for all sports.[24]

In addition to broadcast rights, the NDSU Bison also receive dedicated print coverage in Bison Illustrated. The monthly magazine brings readers behind the scenes coverage of NDSU teams, players, coaches, administration, and alumni. The magazine is distributed free of charge in locations around the Fargo-Moorhead area and is available via paid subscription for out-of-state readers.[25]


  1. ^ NDSU Bison Graphic Standards (PDF). May 23, 2013. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Official Site of the North Dakota State Bison". North Dakota State Athletics. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  3. ^ "NDSU Men's Track and Field Record Book" (PDF). North Dakota State Bison. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  4. ^ "North Dakota State fends off upset bid from upstart Iowa". SB Nation. September 17, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  5. ^ "North Dakota State Beats James Madison 28-20 for 3rd Straight FCS Championship". Bleacher Report. January 11, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  6. ^ "North Dakota State's streak of semifinal appearances snapped in loss to Sam Houston State". CBS. May 2, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  7. ^ "Luepke's 2 TDs help NDSU beat JMU 20-14 in FCS semis". CBS. December 18, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  8. ^ "Bison rout Bobcats for ninth FCS championship in 11 years". CBS. January 8, 2022. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  9. ^ "Arizona snaps North Dakota St's FBS streak at 6, wins 31-28". CBS. September 18, 2022. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  10. ^ "South Dakota State wins the 2022 FCS Championship". NCAA. January 6, 2023. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  11. ^ "First Four:North Dakota State edges North Carolina Central, gets date with Duke". SB Nation. March 20, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  12. ^ "NDSU Players React after Season-Ending Loss against No. 1 Duke". KVRR Fargo News. March 22, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  13. ^ "North Dakota State clinches Summit League Championship with rout of North Dakota". Sioux Falls Argus Leader. March 10, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  14. ^ "Fourth-seeded Oral Roberts fends off second half charge from NDSU to capture title". The Summit League. March 9, 2021. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  15. ^ "SDSU Men Outlast NDSU for Summit title". Yankton Daily Press. March 8, 2022. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  16. ^ "Oral Roberts blast Bison for Summit League tournament title, trip to the Big Dance". Forum of Fargo/Moorhead.
  17. ^ "NCAA baseball tourney selection show was a cherished moment for Bison seniors". Forum of Fargo/Moorhead. May 31, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  18. ^ "College baseball: NDSU clinches first Summit League regular season championship". Forum of Fargo/Moorhead. May 20, 2022. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  19. ^ "College baseball:Bison close season with loss to Omaha". Forum of Fargo/Moorhead. May 28, 2022. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  20. ^ "NDSU earns berth into NCAA Division I , tourney". Forum of Fargo/Moorhead. November 7, 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  21. ^ "Meet the Mascots: North Dakota State's Thundar the Bison". The Summit League. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  22. ^ "History and Traditions of NDSU - North Dakota State University". Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  23. ^ "Peterson Farms Seed Bison Radio Network". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  24. ^ "NDSU Athletics Announces Multi-Year Television Agreement with Forum Communications". Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  25. ^ "About Bison Illustrated - Bison Illustrated". Bison Illustrated. Retrieved 2018-05-09.

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