The North Dakota Fighting Hawks represent the University of North Dakota, competing as an independent program in the NCAA Division I's Football Championship Subdivision. From 1973 to 2008, they played in the NCAA's NCAA Division II, winning the National Championship in 2001. From 1955 to 1972, they competed in the NCAA's College Division where they participated in and won three bowl games.
North Dakota fielded its first football team in 1894. In 1922, they were one of the 9 charter members of the North Central Conference, where they competed until 2008 when they upgraded all of their athletic programs to the Division I level and joined the Great West Conference. They joined the Big Sky Conference in 2012. UND has won 26 conference championships, including 14 outright titles. They have qualified for NCAA postseason play 18 times, most recently in 2019. North Dakota was ineligible for post season play during its transition to Division I from 2008 to 2011.
North Dakota left the Big Sky Conference for all sports in 2018, joining the Summit League. Their football program will join the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020. Although being classified as an independent for football in 2018 and 2019, they will continue to play a full Big Sky schedule and their games will count in the conference standings for their opponents but the Fighting Hawks will be ineligible to win the conference championship.
The Alerus Center is an indoor arena and convention center located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The facility is owned and operated by the city of Grand Forks and opened on February 10, 2001. The arena's major tenant is the University of North Dakota football team. The arena also plays host to many large concerts, sporting events, and trade shows. It can seat more than 21,000 people at one time. The convention center section of the facility includes a 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) ballroom and 12 meeting rooms. The convention center is used for conferences, seminars, banquets, parties, and smaller concerts. Directly adjacent to the Alerus Center is a large hotel and waterpark complex called the Canad Inns Destination Center.
Alerus Center is named after a local financial institution, Alerus Financial, which purchased the building's naming rights. Prior to opening, the facility had been referred to as the Aurora Events Center.