Summit snubs UND because of nicknameGRAND FORKS — The Summit League will visit the University of South Dakota later this month to gather information about the school’s athletic programs — a move that may open the door for South Dakota to join the 10-team conference.
By: Wayne Nelson, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — The Summit League will visit the University of South Dakota later this month to gather information about the school’s athletic programs — a move that may open the door for South Dakota to join the 10-team conference.
The league, however, has no plans to visit UND because of the school’s ongoing controversy over the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.
UND and South Dakota both are in their first season of NCAA Division I competition. When both schools announced their Division I intentions, full conference affiliation was listed as a crucial component of the move.
“I’m not presenting any information to the (league’s) presidents council on the University of North Dakota until the logo issue is resolved one way or the other,” Summit League commissioner Tom Douple said Tuesday. “I don’t want it to be an issue for our members.”
Summit League officials will visit the South Dakota campus in Vermillion on Jan. 20-21.
Douple said there is no timetable on league expansion.
“But we’re always looking at our options,” Douple said.
UND and South Dakota have applied for Summit membership.
Both schools consider the league a good fit geographically and athletically. If the two schools gain admission into the league, they’d be reunited with their natural rivals — North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
The UND-NDSU and South Dakota-South Dakota State rivalries have been dormant since NDSU and South Dakota State moved to Division I competition in 2004.
UND and South Dakota both belong to the Great West Conference, a nine-member league that stretches from coast to coast.
The conference was expanded from a football-only league to an all-sports league last summer, a move that was welcomed by both UND and South Dakota.
However, both schools ultimately would like to join the Summit, which is based mainly in the Midwest.
UND athletic director Brian Faison said his school has not been contacted by Summit League officials.
“The UND Athletics Department is always looking for ways to expand and improve opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, fans and contributors,” Faison said in a statement. “Conference membership is a crucial part of the transition process to full Division I membership. We are pleased to be members of the Great West Conference.”
If the Summit, which does not sponsor football, does expand, it likely won’t come until South Dakota completes its Division I transition years. South Dakota, along with UND, won’t complete the transition until the 2012-13 school year. That’s the first season South Dakota and UND will be eligible for Division I postseason play.
South Dakota officials were pleased with the Summit’s decision to visit the Vermillion campus.
“Full conference affiliation is critical to our athletic strategic plan and transition to Division I,” South Dakota Athletic Director Joel Nielsen said. “It also represents a vital component to the advancement and interests of many of our sponsored sports.”
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