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Dustin Monke , Published November 03 2010

Frontier taps Dickinson State for application

Frontier Conference commissioner Kent Paulson said Tuesday that Dickinson State was the only school of seven contacted by the conference in late September to submit an application for full membership in the NAIA league.

Jamestown College and Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., submitted applications to join as football-only members and Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., submitted to join as a member in football and wrestling. The deadline for submitting the applications was Oct. 29.

Mayville State, Valley City State and Azusa (Calif.) Pacific University were also contacted, but did not apply.

Paulson said Frontier officials have the next month to consider adding the four schools, and the effects of travel costs and alignment for different sports before league meetings Dec. 6-7 in Billings, Mont.

“The main thing we have going right now for everybody is it has provided a forum in which we have great conversation,” Paulson said.

Paulson said he will be sending information on the four schools who have applied to current Frontier members.

“Then, I will send out some scenarios for them to put the pencil to,” Paulson said.

Dickinson State interim athletic director Tim Daniel said the university is “anxiously awaiting” the Frontier’s December meeting and subsequent decision.

“We’re in the holding pattern, waiting to get information back from those guys so we can react to it,” Daniel said. “There’s not much we can do until then.”

Daniel said the Frontier was Dickinson State’s first and best option for remaining a member of the NAIA once the Dakota Athletic Conference began breaking up. Minot State began its transition to NCAA Division II in 2009. Black Hills State and South Dakota Mines followed suit last summer and, shortly after, Dakota State announced it was becoming an NAIA Independent in the 2011-12 school year.

That left the DAC with four teams: Dickinson State, Jamestown College, Mayville State and Valley City State.

The Frontier met with officials from the remaining DAC schools in August about a possible merger.

Dickinson State officials have expressed no outward intentions of exploring NCAA Division II and have said the school refuses to go the independent route.

“We’ve continually said we feel it’s important that we’re in a conference for a number of reasons,” Daniel said.

Jamestown College’s application for football-only membership was not shocking, but wasn’t as expected as Dickinson State’s.

Meanwhile, Mayville State athletic director Mike Moore said the cost and travel time associated with joining the Frontier kept his institution from submitting a membership application.

The Frontier is based in Montana but stretches to Oregon, Idaho and Utah in various sports.

“It wasn’t a good fit in that respect,” Moore said.

He said Mayville State is exploring other options, including the possibilities of joining a closer NCAA Division III conference as an associate member in football.

“Everybody is looking at their membership. How can we solidify things?” Moore said.

Paulson said he had no contact with Valley City State after the DAC-Frontier Conference meetings held in Dickinson, but added that they expressed gratitude for being included in the expansion conversation.

Calls to Jamestown College and Valley City State officials on Tuesday went unreturned.

Schools in the conversation to join the Frontier would not join until the 2012-13 season because schedules have already been, or are in the process of being drawn up for the 2011-12 season.

Next season, DSU, Jamestown College, Mayville State and Valley City State would remain members of the Dakota Athletic Conference for one final season with a new scheduling format that includes home-and-home games in football.

The DAC schools would be viewed by the NAIA as independents because a conference is required to have six members in order for its champion to earn an automatic postseason bid.

“We’ll basically be at the mercy of the rankings,” Daniel said.

Frontier Conference

Full members

(including football)

Carroll College (Helena, Mont.)

Montana State-Northern (Havre, Mont.)

Montana Tech (Butte, Mont.)

Montana Western (Dillon, Mont.)

Rocky Mountain College (Mont.)

Full members (non-football)

University of Great Falls (Mont.)

Lewis-Clark State College (Lewiston, Idaho)

Westminster College (Salt Lake City)

Football only

Eastern Oregon University (La Grande, Ore.)

Potential members

Dickinson State University (full member)

Jamestown College (football only)

Menlo College (football and wrestling only)

Southern Oregon University (football only)