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Eric Peterson, Published January 12 2011

Peterson: Division II still affected by NDSU's move to Division I

The tremors started in August 2002 when North Dakota State announced its intentions to pursue NCAA Division I status.

Nearly a decade later, the ripple effects are still being felt on the regional college conference landscape.

“I think what we’re seeing now is the last dominoes falling from all of the schools in our region going Division I,” Minnesota State Moorhead athletic director Doug Peters said.

Northern Colorado and South Dakota State also decided to go D-I around the same time NDSU did,

starting a mass exodus that ended the North Central Conference.

South Dakota and North Dakota would follow suit. That led to four remaining NCC schools joining the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

On the heels of that, a number of regional schools have decided to move from NAIA to NCAA Division II, and that has led to the end of the Dakota Athletic Conference.

In a nutshell, that puts us at where we are today, and it’s hard to know when the shuffling will end.

“Like I’ve said before,” Peters said, “give me the crystal because I would like to know.”

We do know this: The NSIC presidents meet on Jan. 20 and are set to vote on whether or not to add the University of Sioux Falls and Minot State, expanding the league from 14 to 16 teams.

“The site visits went very, very well. I don’t really know any more that they could do,” said NSIC commissioner Butch Raymond. “It’s in the hands of the presidents/chancellors to decide whether these schools are good fits.”

The result of that vote could create more tremors. If Minot State and Sioux Falls are not accepted, what is their next move? Does that lead to the start of another D-II league? Minot State and Sioux Falls could join with former DAC counterparts South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State – who have both started to transition to NCAA D-II from NAIA – as a base for a new league.

Does that then force the hand of DAC schools like Dickinson State, Valley City State, Jamestown College and Mayville State – who are still in NAIA – to also move to Division II?

“I think it’s in the back of the minds of more and more people,” Jamestown College athletic director Lawrie Paulson said. “I think as more and more schools make the move, I think more people think in those terms. Whether it happens, I don’t know.”

Of course, nothing is that simple. Starting a new conference will not happen overnight and the NCAA may make it more difficult to start new D-II leagues.

“If something does happen,” Raymond said, “I think it’s quite a few years away. I would guess five to 10 years away to anything happening at the earliest.”

That means it could be another decade, if ever, until the final dominos fall.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513

or epeterson@forumcomm.com. Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com