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Dave Selvig / Forum News Service, Published April 22 2013

6 Dakota schools forming new athletic conference

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – After two years without a conference home, Jamestown College officially got one on Monday.

Jamestown College, along with Valley City State and Mayville State, along with Dakota State and Presentation College of South Dakota, will form the new North Star Athletic Association beginning this coming school year.

Dickinson State will join the league in 2014-15, giving the conference the requisite six schools to earn automatic-qualifying status into NAIA national tournaments. Dickinson State will compete in the Frontier Conference next year, its second in the Montana-based league.

The announcement was made from Kansas City, Mo., site of the 72nd Annual NAIA Convention.

The deal was sealed on Monday when Presentation College of Aberdeen, S.D., was officially admitted into the NAIA. PC was previously an NCAA Division III independent.

The last remaining hurdle for the new league was to obtain a waiver for 2013-14 that would allow for national-qualifying status.

“Significant efforts have been underway during the past year by our five schools in working to form a new athletic conference in the Upper Midwest,” said Valley City State president Dr. Steven Shirley. “The North Star will be a tremendous source of pride for our institutions as well as our student-athletes, supporters, coaches, communities and alumni.”

It’s a reunion of sorts for Jamestown College, Valley City State, Mayville State and Dakota State – all of which were longtime members of the Dakota Athletic Conference-10 and then the DAC. The DAC-10, previously the NDCAC, then slowly began to unravel with the University of Mary deciding to leave in 2006 for NCAA Division II, which was the first major domino to fall.

But that appears to be history now with Monday’s announcement. Although there was a slight glitch when Presentation College prematurely released the official announcements on its website. Officials had hoped to wait on an official announcement until all the details were ironed out.

Still, Monday was a significant step for the four longtime NAIA schools, which spent the last two years competing in the Association of Independent Institutions, or the A.I.I., which was financially and geographically challenging, with teams scattered all over the country.

“This is a positive day and an exciting day,” said Jamestown College athletic director Lawrie Paulson. “We’re happy with the developments with Presentation College and congratulate them and welcome them to the NAIA.”

A lot of work remains, though, including naming a commissioner, which the league hopes to do later this spring. The league would also like to grow beyond six members to ensure long-term stability.

“This is only the beginning,” said Paulson. “There’s a lot of work to do in the coming years.”

Selvig is the sports editor for the Jamestown Sun