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Dustin Monke / Forum Communications Co., Published January 22 2011

DAC to move forward with four schools

DICKINSON, N.D. – The Dakota Athletic Conference announced Friday through a press release that, as expected, it will move forward as a four-member league in the 2011-12 season.

“It’s just something the conference needed to do, was to determine a plan for next year,” DAC commissioner Lavern Jessen said. “That was the purpose of the press release, to let the public know what the plan is, that there still is going to be a DAC.”

Athletic directors and presidents at Dickinson State, Jamestown College, Mayville State and Valley City State approved next season’s schedules and announced the DAC will still award conference championships, have all-conference teams and name players of the week.

However, it also means several changes in the manner DAC teams can qualify for national tournaments.

NAIA conferences must have a minimum of six member schools in order for its conference champions to receive automatic invitations to national competition.

The change means the NAIA will essentially view the four DAC members as independents.

Football teams will be eligible for the NAIA’s 16-team playoff based on rankings in the coaches poll. Baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, softball and volleyball teams will advance to tournaments with other NAIA independent schools, where they will receive the opportunity to qualify for national tournaments.

Jessen said he is uncertain on the details of how DAC teams will gain entry into these tournaments.

“There will be some type of a playoff format,” he said.

Track and field and wrestling teams will be unaffected by the change.

The DAC will no longer be affiliated with Black Hills State, Dakota State, Minot State and South Dakota Mines after the 2010-11 season concludes.

Black Hills State, Minot State and South Dakota Mines are leaving the NAIA to pursue NCAA Division II status. Dakota State is becoming an NAIA independent.

It was announced Thursday that Minot State will join the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in the 2012-13 season. Black Hills State and South Dakota Mines are still searching for D-II conference affiliation.

Dickinson State and Jamestown College have been in discussions with the NAIA’s Frontier Conference since August and applied for membership in October.

Officials from both schools will attend meetings with Frontier officials on Feb. 6-8 in Billings, Mont., to further discuss conference affiliation. DSU has applied for full membership in the Frontier. Jamestown College has applied to be an associate member in football only.

Mayville State and Valley City State were approached by the Frontier about membership, but chose not to apply.

Monke is the sports editor of the Dickinson Press