FARGO – The University of North Dakota will open its athletics television rights to offers, which means it’s possible that Fighting Hawks hockey, football and basketball will be carried by someone other than Midco Sports for the first time in a decade.
“We expect some competition,” said Kyle Doperalski, UND assistant athletic director for away operations. “We expect there to be multiple responses.”
Midco Sports, based in Sioux Falls, SD, has owned the rights to UND athletics broadcasts since 2012, when it won a bidding process for a five-year contract. The university extended its contract with Midco for five years, without offers, when the original agreement expired. Now that the extension has expired, UND will be sending out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) in the coming weeks.
“We hope and are confident that these tenders will elicit responses,” Doperalski said.
UND’s hockey program is the crown jewel of the broadcast bouquet, with eight national championships and a regularly sold-out Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The list of possible bidders is not long.
Midco Sports will likely want to retain the rights to UND after losing North Dakota State men’s and women’s basketball to Forum Communications Co. last year.
Fargo-based Forum Communications, which owns The Forum and InForum.com, is a potential suitor. The Fargo-based company owns ABC affiliate WDAY-TV, WDAY Xtra and is in the process of acquiring Fox affiliate KVRR-TV from Red River Broadcasting Co.
Fargo’s KVLY-TV, owned by Atlanta-based Gray Television, is another possible bidder. KVLY had the NDSU football rights for over a decade before 2021 before they were awarded to Forum Communications and may be interested in replacing the Bison with the Fighting Hawks.
“Forum Communications and WDAY are always looking for the best ways to cover local news and sports and deliver that content to area homes,” said Forum Communications Co. Vice President of Broadcast Josh Rohrer.
KVLY chief executive Ike Walker did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
UND’s television contract would be a huge undertaking with the potential for 9-10 football games, around 18 hockey games and over 30 men’s and women’s basketball games each year.
Doperalski said he expects the rights to be awarded in early summer.
UND’s flagship radio rights are also being offered. The Fighting Hawks have a longstanding partnership with iHeart Radio in Grand Forks, although Doperalski said he expects multiple offers.