North Dakota State Bison

The North Dakota State Bison is the name of 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.

North Dakota State Bison
UniversityNorth Dakota State University
ConferenceSummit League
Missouri Valley Football Conference
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
Fight songOn Bison
We are the Pride
ColorsGreen and Yellow[1]

Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
BasketballCross country
Cross countryGolf
Track and fieldTrack and field
† – 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.


The Bison football team, which since 1993 played their home games at the Fargodome, was a dominant force in Division II. Through January 2018, they have won 15 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 seven national championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018). 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 1/2 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.


The Bison basketball program includes a men's and a women's team. The teams play at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex (SHAC). The women's basketball team was a dominant force in Division II throughout the 1990s. 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 March 10, 2009 the Bison defeated Oakland 66–64 to win the Summit League Tournament and a bid to the 2009 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

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.


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.


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.


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.


In fall 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.


"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.[3] While some form of a "Bison Mascot" has been used at NDSU athletic events since the mid-1960's, "Thundar" did not become the official mascot of the university until 1991.[4]


NDSU athletics radio coverage rights are held by Radio FM Media with games also airing on the 24-station Bison Radio Network.[5] TV rights for the Bison are awarded separately for football and basketball with KVLY-TV and NBC North Dakota televising football and Midco Sports Network televising basketball.[6]

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.[7]


  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. "Meet the Mascots: North Dakota State's Thundar the Bison". The Summit League. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  4. "History and Traditions of NDSU - North Dakota State University". Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  5. "Peterson Farms Seed Bison Radio Network". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  6. "North Dakota State Announces Media Rights Agreements". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  7. "About Bison Illustrated - Bison Illustrated". Bison Illustrated. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
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