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Peterson: DAC Bowl brings sad end to league's great football years

The Dakota Athletic Conference Bowl was started a couple years ago to showcase teams in Dakota Athletic Conference football.

However, Sunday at the Fargodome may not have a festive feel.

"There is no question there will be some sadness that goes along with this event," DAC commissioner LaVern Jessen said. "It's definitely a feeling of closure at least for the football folks."

DAC Bowl No. 2 will be the last as the conference is losing four teams after this season. Minot State, South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State are making the move to NCAA Division II. Dakota State will become an NAIA independent.

Independents, in essence, is what will become of the four schools competing in what will be called the DAC next season -- Dickinson State, Jamestown College, Mayville State and Valley City State.

"We will do everything the same until it is playoff time," Jessen said.

"And then we will not conduct conference postseason tournaments. We will be placed in with other independent institutions and have to go through a playoff process with independents."

Jessen said the league doesn't have any special plans for Sunday in what is the last hurrah for DAC football in its current form.

"I guess we could have a funeral," Jessen cracked.

Jessen is disappointed to see a league that he has been associated with (in its various forms) for most of his adult life dissolve. The DAC formed in 2000 when the North Dakota College Athletic Conference and South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference merged.

Jessen played basketball at Minot State in the early 1950s. After a couple years in the Army, he was a basketball official in the league. Jessen was head men's basketball coach at Dickinson State for five years and also served as a faculty athletic representative. He has been the league commissioner for the past two decades.

"The memories I have of the football seasons is that it's been a very competitive conference and a conference that has been a strong NAIA (league) and has sent a lot of good teams into the playoffs," Jessen said.

Dickinson State, Jamestown College, Mayville State, Minot State and Valley City State have all played in the same conference since 1923. Minot State is out for sure next season and it's unclear where the other four schools will land following next season.

"It's extremely disappointing to fans across North Dakota," Jessen said. "They are always asking 'Why is this happening?' "

The final DAC football race has been competitive. If Minot State beats South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State beats Dickinson State there would be a four-way tie for first place.

"That would kind of be an unusual ending," Jessen said.

Unusual would seem to fit this season's theme.

Peterson is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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