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North Star Athletic Association extends invitation to DSU

The Dickinson State athletic program has officially been invited to join a league made up of some of its oldest rivals.

The Blue Hawks been invited to join the North Star Athletic Association, which was officially introduced Monday as a five-member league consisting of Jamestown College, Mayville State, Valley City State, Dakota State in Madison, S.D., and Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D.

"We'd potentially go back to some long-standing competitions of schools that we have traditionally competed against," DSU athletic director Tim Daniel said.

However at this point, DSU can't accept the invitation because it is a member of the Frontier Conference.

"At this time we are exploring our options and will be evaluating whether or not to join the NSAA," said DSU President, Dr. D.C. Coston said in a statement.

"The issues we will be putting focus on include: whether or not the alliance will improve the academic experience for our student-athletes by allowing for less travel; whether our athletes will have greater opportunity to compete in conference championships; and whether the long-term history of competition with members of the new conference will enhance the experiences of our student-athletes, teams and those that support Dickinson State."

Those five institutions are set to commence play in the NSAA at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Jamestown, Dakota State Mayville State and Valley City State have been independents since the Dakota Athletic Conference disbanded after the 2010-11 season.

Presentation, a former NCAA Division III school, was notified on Monday that it has been accepted into the NAIA.

If DSU accepts the invitation to join the NSAA, the university wouldn't join conference play until the 2014-15 season. DSU is locked into a Frontier schedule through the 2013-14 school year. The Blue Hawks have released their 2013-14 football schedule for this year and the only nonconference game is against Jamestown.

"It would be a chance to renew old friendships," DSU head football coach Hank Biesiot said. "We miss playing old rivals and old gangs, but from a football standpoint the schedule is good where we are at."

Since joining the Frontier, DSU has made a handful of treks of nearly 1,000 miles -- one way.

The longest amount of travel DSU would have if it accepted the invitation to the NSAA would be 491 miles to Madison, S.D. There are only two Frontier Conference opponents closer: Rocky Mountain College in Billings Mont. (320 miles) and University of Great Fall in Great Falls, Mont. (446 miles).

"This potential has the opportunity to address some of our issues that we are experiencing right now with class time," Daniel said. "The location of these institutions has the ability to reduce the amount of loss of class time."