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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 10 2013

Kolpack: Leagues all about football, basketball


Well, at least we don’t have to explain that Oakland University is in Michigan, not California, anymore. That’s about the lone positive coming out of the Grizzlies’ predictable move to the Horizon League this week.

Our office will miss head men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe, who was always available and always had something to say. His team always wore black or gray and Kampe always wore all black, the mid-major wardrobe equivalent to the Bobby Knight red sweater.

The all-black look was part of the intense vibe the Grizzlies gave the Bison Sports Arena on every visit. Plus, they were a good team.

So what’s next for the Summit League? Taking Oakland and Oral Roberts out of the equation the last two years has been a hit and the suggestion was made this week that the Big Sky Conference should revisit North Dakota State.

If the Summit continues its slide, it may happen someday. But not now.

I’ll give you two reasons why it won’t: Because the Bison football engine powers the athletic department and men’s basketball still has its automatic qualifier.

Football is in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, a recipe that has produced two straight Division I Football Championship Subdivision titles. The Bison like the league because the footprint is in their recruiting zone and the strength from top to bottom is better than the Big Sky.

As long as the Valley stays intact, there is a slim-to-none chance of a move for football.

The other sports could get interesting.

The Summit is down to eight schools, eight of whom the powers that be, like commissioner Tom Douple, call “stable.” There is work to be done in baseball, which is down to five, but that’s solvable. Add somebody, anybody, as an affiliate member.

“I think Tom is feverishly working behind the scenes to figure out who to add, where to add,” said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. “Just like Denver. The next thing you know, we’re doing an announcement on adding Denver.”

If indeed the eight are stable, you probably won’t hear men’s and women’s basketball complaining over the 1-in-8 chance of reaching the NCAA tournament compared to the

1 and megaconference chances of other leagues. When you filled out your NCAA bracket, do you really care how many schools were in that league?

Having 16-team big-time major conferences makes sense because of the immense television contracts. The mid-majors? Not so much.

It takes six schools to maintain automatic qualifier status. In theory, if you could find six that signed a 50-year, bar-none, your arena will-be-nuked-if-you-leave, no-escape clause agreement, the odds of reaching the NCAA are that much better. It’s all about results, right?

Who cares how you get there. Millions fill out a Big Dance bracket. That’s millions that have NDSU on its mind, at least for one week.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia