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Montana State buys out fall football game at NDSU

FARGO -- Montana State athletic director Peter Fields said Tuesday the school bought out next fall's football game at North Dakota State so it could pay for another home game in Bozeman.

Fields said the school needed to schedule a guarantee game at Division I Bowl Subdivision Southern Methodist University so it could pay a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program a guarantee to open the season at MSU.

"The decision not to play North Dakota State was not easy and was not made lightly," he said, "but our responsibility is to the fans and season ticketholders of Montana State, and this decision was made in their best interest. It's unfortunate."

Montana State is paying the $100,000 buyout to NDSU for the Sept. 14 game and will travel to SMU for a $300,000 guarantee. MSU is then paying Monmouth (N.J.) $200,000 for an Aug. 29 game. Monmouth will be an FCS independent next season leaving the Northeast Conference after last year and will join the Big South Conference in 2014.

Fields called switching NDSU for SMU and Monmouth "revenue neutral" but the school also gets a sixth home game it was looking for at 17,000-seat Bobcat Stadium.

"Playing six home games is very important to our program, and we had such positive feedback from our Thursday night game last year that we wanted to provide our fans that opportunity again," Fields said. "A schedule with six home games and six road games gives us good balance."

Fields said the SMU game was also made for recruiting purposes, citing Montana State regularly getting players from the Texas area. The Bobcats are also playing at Stephen F. Austin (Texas) on Sept. 21.

"We feel that making two trips to Texas is both a reward for our players from that state and an important step in terms of recruiting in that area," he said.

The contract buyout leaves NDSU with 10 games and looking for another opponent, with open dates on Sept. 7, Sept. 14 and Nov. 2.

Montana State is hosting NCAA Division II Colorado Mesa on Sept. 14 and is at Northern Colorado on Nov. 2.