- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Four Division I colleges in North and South Dakota are holding signing day parties. Only one is charging for the event.

Three-time defending Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State is charging $25 for admission, along with a buffet dinner. Athletic director Gene Taylor said the fee essentially covers the cost of the party, which will be held in the ballroom of a Fargo hotel, but it’s another way to market the school and its athletic program. Major donors and season-ticket holders are invited.

“We will have a very good crowd,” Taylor said Tuesday. “Obviously it has grown, just with the success we have had.

North Dakota is holding its party at the Alerus Center, the indoor football stadium and conference center in Grand Forks. South Dakota State coaches will review the day’s events with their fans at a sports bar in downtown Brookings. Both parties are free.

South Dakota coach Joe Glenn and his staff are dividing their time with Coyotes fans, with events scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

South Dakota State athletic director Justin Sell said NDSU’s ability to charge for the signing day soiree shows how much fans value the program, but it’s not likely to happen in Brookings. SDSU officials want “everybody to be able to come and just enjoy hanging out,” he said.

“NDSU fans are absolutely behind their football program, 100 percent all in. They’ve proven that by filling the dome every Saturday when they have a home game and travelling like they do on the road,” Sell said. “It’s one of those unique groups when you look at the FCS level.”

The Jackrabbit reached the second round of the FCS playoffs for the second straight year, and donations are at an all-time high, Sell said, including three separate gifts of $10 million in the last 18 months.

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