DSU officially joins FrontierOn a hectic weekend of Dickinson State University athletics, perhaps the most important moment came late Saturday evening during the Blue Hawk Booster Club post-football game social.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
On a hectic weekend of Dickinson State University athletics, perhaps the most important moment came late Saturday evening during the Blue Hawk Booster Club post-football game social.
Before a packed crowd of boosters and athletes in Elks Club’s Sodbuster Saloon, DSU and Frontier Conference officials signed a contract officially making the Blue Hawks a member of the league beginning in the 2012-13 season.
“Wonderful things are happening,” said D.C. Coston, DSU’s acting president. “This institution has a phenomenal tradition in athletics, and we’re making a move that will allow that to continue. That is to become a member of the Frontier Conference.”
The day marked a culmination of more than 15 months of meetings, planning and decision-making for both DSU and the Frontier.
The idea to explore joining the Frontier first came about in the summer of 2010 when it appeared imminent that the Dakota Athletic Conference would soon be forced to disband after four of its eight league members — Black Hills State, Dakota State, Minot State and South Dakota Mines — announced their intentions to leave the league.
Frontier Commissioner Kent Paulson said he remembers coming to DSU for a meeting of Frontier and DAC officials on Aug. 25, 2010, at the Badlands Activities Center and leaving with a good feeling.
When we took off from the airport, I told (Rocky Mountain College President) Mike Mace, ‘Mike, I just know we’re going to be coming back here,’” Paulson said. “Here we are and we’re happy to be here.”
After months of lingering questions about DSU’s athletic future, the university was invited to join the Frontier on Feb. 8 after the presidents of conference schools voted unanimously to extend invitations to DSU as a full member and Southern Oregon University as a football-only member.
On Saturday night, DSU and the Frontier made the union official.
Coston and athletic director Tim Daniel signed on behalf of DSU while Paulson and Mace represented the Frontier Conference. Mace is the chairman of the Council of Frontier Conference Presidents.
Still work to be done
Though the contract is signed, there are many details still being worked out.
Paulson said completing conference schedules in all sports for the 2012-13 season is at the top of the league’s to-do list.
While basketball and volleyball schedules have been approved by conference presidents, the football schedule remains up in the air.
What’s certain at the moment is that the eight-team football league will be divided into two four-team divisions.
DSU will play each team within its division twice (Carroll College, Montana State-Northern and Rocky Mountain) and the four teams from the other division once (Eastern Oregon, Montana Tech, Montana Western and Southern Oregon), creating a 10-game schedule with the option for scheduling an 11th nonconference game.
Paulson said league meetings to be held Dec. 4 and 5 in Billings, Mont., are focused on shoring up schedules.
“Basically what we’ll be doing with that is just assigning dates,” he said.
Also on the docket is an upcoming meeting with Frontier Airlines with the hopes of creating a partnership with the airline’s charter division. Paulson said Mace will meet with the airline’s officials this week in Denver to discuss forming a partnership.
The goal is to find a way to fly teams across the country so they can avoid lengthy bus trips. For example, DSU and Southern Oregon are separated by nearly 1,500 miles. It figures to be at least a two-day trip by bus.
“From a football player’s standpoint, you play hard on Saturday afternoons, and if they knew they’d be back in their beds on Saturday night, that’s pretty sweet,” Paulson said.
Paulson said the Frontier is still looking into further expansion. He said the league continues to have discussions with Jamestown College.
“We’re still very much interested in Jamestown, and I think they are of us,” Paulson said. “The presidents tabled their application for the moment, and we’re doing some clean-up, as far as some documents, in terms of the bylaws of our strategic plan.
“I think, the next time around, Jamestown will be there. I really do.”