Frontier move means changes are coming for DSU athletics
The phone in Dickinson State interim athletic director Tim Daniel's office rarely stopped ringing Wednesday. "Everybody has said to us, 'congratulations' and 'great job,'" Daniel said. "Well, the real work is ahead of us now." DSU began looking t...
The phone in Dickinson State interim athletic director Tim Daniel's office rarely stopped ringing Wednesday.
"Everybody has said to us, 'congratulations' and 'great job,'" Daniel said. "Well, the real work is ahead of us now."
DSU began looking to the future of its athletic programs the day after it was invited join the Frontier Conference at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.
DSU has not officially accepted the invitation to join the Frontier -- it is waiting on official documents from the conference -- but Daniel said the school's acceptance is forthcoming and that the process is ongoing so it is done in accordance with NAIA rules.
"At this point in time, we're not all that concerned," Daniel said. "We know that we're making ongoing efforts to get everything done in the proper way. We're committed to this and we know that the people from the Frontier Conference are committed."
DSU President Dr. Richard McCallum called the school's invitation to join the conference, "an incredibly important step and a new window of opportunity for our athletic program."
It also represents perhaps the biggest change DSU athletics has ever undergone.
Joining the Frontier doesn't just mean DSU will leave behind the doomed Dakota Athletic Conference and many of its long-time rivals. It looks to impact everything from recruiting and scheduling to athletic department funding and scholarship dollars.
The biggest change may come in men's and women's basketball, where DSU will shift from NAIA Division II to Division I. The sole difference between the two divisions is scholarship dollars.
Basketball teams in Division I are allowed to have 11 full scholarships. Division II is capped at six.
"What do we have to do to compete?" Daniel said. "Anytime you're going into a situation, you've got to evaluate what you're going into and try and develop a game plan. That's going to take time. That's going to be a process. That's the one good thing about this. We have the time to develop all these things. We've got some things we've got to address and take a look at."
One drawback of joining the Frontier, however, is that the league does not offer conference affiliation for three DSU sports -- baseball, softball and wrestling.
The initial thinking, Daniel said, is to address those sports in the same way as they will be next year when DAC teams are viewed as NAIA independents.
Though wrestling will be largely unaffected by the conference change, baseball and softball will be unable to compete for conference championships and would have to rely on national rankings and NAIA independent postseason tournaments in order to qualify for national competition.
Daniel said that in his discussions with Frontier officials earlier this week, he got a sense that some schools have considered adding baseball and softball programs. If that's the case, the Frontier could one day offer conference championships for both sports.
"We're hopeful that with our presence in the Frontier Conference, other schools will look to consider offering those sports," Daniel said. "Maybe, as the existing members look to grow, they'll look to establish some of the sports we already have."
The list of changes to DSU's athletic programs will continue to grow as it inches closer to becoming a full-fledged member of the Frontier.
Nonetheless, McCallum said he believes remaining a member of the NAIA was in DSU's best interest, not just athletically, but financially.
"There were a number of variables, both in terms of finances and in terms of program," McCallum said. "We tried to balance those variables in our decision. I believe this one is the one that made the most sense for us when we submitted our application."