DSU must increase fundraising to compete in FrontierIn the Dakota Athletic Conference, Dickinson State has been a leader in awarding financial aid to student-athletes.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
In the Dakota Athletic Conference, Dickinson State has been a leader in awarding financial aid to student-athletes.
However, as the university’s athletic department prepares for its move to the Frontier Conference in 2012, it finds itself in the peculiar position.
In the 2009-10 school year, DSU would have ranked last among Frontier Conference schools in athletically related student aid, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics data analysis website.
That year, DSU ranked second in the DAC behind only Jamestown College — the conference’s lone private institution.
“You look at our scholarships, what we provide for our sports compared to what they do in the Frontier,” DSU athletic director Tim Daniel said. “They’re significantly higher than where we’re at.”
In an effort to catch up with its future conference opponents, the Blue Hawk Booster Club has kicked off its 40th annual athletic scholarship drive with a focus on increasing its fundraising bottom line.
In the 2010-11 school year, the booster club raised a record $208,000. The coming year’s target goal is set at $230,000.
Two years ago, DSU awarded $876,576 in athletically related student aid to 239 participants. That total breaks down to an average of $3,668 per student-athlete.
“That figure includes any type of aid that the student receives, other than federal financial aid,” Daniel said.
By comparison, Montana Tech and Westminster College dolled out the lowest amount of money among with Frontier Conference schools that year. Montana Tech awarded $664,640 to 170 participants, an average of $3,910 per student-athlete and the lowest of the league’s publically funded institutions.
“It’s not like we’re trying to raise our scholarship limits to meet the highest of that conference,” Daniel said. “We’re just trying to get to the lowest level.”
Daniel said the first goal of the booster club’s fundraising efforts is to keep pace with the rising cost of tuition and fees.
Mark Lowe, a controller in the DSU business affairs office said Friday that tuition at DSU is expected to increase 2.5 percent in the 2011-12 school year with an overall tuition and fee increase of 3.9 percent.
“We’re need to keep pace with the normal increases of going to college,” Daniel said. “That’s our first priority. Second, we need to make a move to get to the competitive level of the Frontier Conference.
“It’s going to be a process. It’s not going to be a one-year thing. We’re going to try and slowly get ourselves to be able to have scholarships that are at the level of that conference.”
To reach fundraising goals, Daniel said the booster club is turning to a “grass-roots” approach.
“Everybody wants to get that one big donor. We’re probably not in that type of situation where we’re going to have one big donor come in and donate a huge amount of money,” Daniel said. “I think the booster club is going out and looking at grass roots and really emphasizing on the individuals. There’s more individuals out there than there are businesses and corporations.”
DSU’s fundraising efforts got under way last Saturday with the Sam’s Blue Hawk Scramble golf tournament. It raised about $8,500 and had more than 140 participants.
“We just want people to understand that when they donate to this, they’re helping students go to school,” said Ty Orton, the Blue Hawk Booster Club’s membership coordinator and DSU’s men’s basketball coach. “This is helping to pay for their tuition, helping these kids offset the cost so they can better their life down the road.”
Daniel said he wants DSU athletics to continue competing on the NAIA’s national level as it has for the past three decades when it makes the move to the Frontier Conference next season.
However, he added, in order to do that, the university and its athletic boosters must keep up with the times.
“We don’t want to go and make this move and not be able to continue providing our athletes an opportunity to be competitive,” Daniel said. “We want to give our athletes an opportunity to go out and compete at a high level as we did for all these years in the NDCAC and the DAC. We want to continue that. We know, to continue that, we’ve got to step up in many areas. One of those many areas we have to step up is financial assistance.”
Financial aid breakdown among Frontier and DAC student-athletes
Listed below is how the schools in the Frontier Conference and Dakota Athletic Conference stacked up in terms of athletically related student aid awarded to their athletes in the 2009-10 school year.
The total dollar amounted is listed, along with total number of student-athletes awarded financial aid. The final number is the average dollar amount awarded to that school’s student athletes. The total dollar amount includes any financial aid awarded to student athletes, but does not include federal financial aid.
Lewis-Clark State College – $1,456,827 for 87 participants = $16,745
University of Great Falls – $1,921,961 for 132 participants = $14,560
Rocky Mountain College – $2,113,999 for 184 participants = $11,489
Carroll College – $1,452,425 for 151 participants = $9,619
Montana State-Northern – $811,650 for 132 participants = $6,149
Montana-Western – $738,865 for 175 participants = $4,222
Montana Tech – $664,640 for 170 participants = $3,910
Westminster College – $329,261 for 85 participants = $3,874
Football-only conference member Eastern Oregon not included
Dakota Athletic Conference
Jamestown College – $1,335,228 for 302 participants = $4,421
Dickinson State – $876,576 for 239 participants = $3,668
Mayville State – $235,163 for 86 participants = $2,734
Minot State – $514,890 for 200 participants = $2,574
South Dakota Mines – $467,462 for 182 participants = $2,568
Black Hills State – $412,000 for 166 participants = $2,482
Valley City State – $332,336 for 166 participants = $2002
Dakota State – $235,050 for 150 participants = $1,567
Source: U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics data analysis website