Summit League to discuss UND in June meeting

GRAND FORKS -- The Summit League -- targeted as a long-term Division I home for UND's athletic programs -- will discuss the school's application to join the 10-team conference in June.

Summit League commissioner Tom Douple
Forum Communications Co. File Photo Summit League commissioner Tom Douple, pictured during a 2006 visit to Fargo, said the league's members will discuss the University of North Dakota's application during a June meeting of league presidents.

GRAND FORKS -- The Summit League -- targeted as a long-term Division I home for UND's athletic programs -- will discuss the school's application to join the 10-team conference in June.

UND athletic director Brian Faison said he talked to Summit commissioner Tom Douple on Thursday. Douple told the UND athletic director that the school's application to join the Summit will be discussed at a June meeting of league presidents.

"This is just the first step in the process," Faison said.

UND has applied to join the Summit, the league that best fits UND and its move to Division I athletics.

The Summit, however, has said that UND would not be considered for membership until the controversy surrounding the school's nickname and logo is resolved. Last week, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education decided to retire the nickname.


There is no timetable regarding UND's potential membership in the Summit. However, it appears that the earliest UND could be admitted is 2013.

"The first step is to talk about us," Faison said of the upcoming Summit meeting. "This is a process and it takes time. They'll talk about the situation and where things stand.

"And it's at their pleasure. They have to weigh their options. It's an involved process."

If UND is accepted into the Summit, the school again would play North Dakota State in most sports other than football as the Bison already compete in the league. South Dakota State also is in the Summit. And South Dakota, which made the move to Division I athletics at the same time as UND, will be accepted into the Summit in 2011.

UND's acceptance into the Midwest league would allow the school to re-establish its rivalries with the three Dakota schools.

The Summit may be UND's only option for an established Division I home. The league best fits UND's profile and it also makes more sense geographically.

The only other possibility for UND's Division I home is the Big Sky Conference. But that league repeatedly has said it is not considering expansion.

Currently, a number of UND athletic programs compete in the Great West Conference, a new league that stretches from coast-to-coast and is mainly comprised of teams that recently have made the jump to Division I.


Since the SBoHE decided to retire the nickname last week, the Summit has had no official reaction. Douple earlier this week said the conference will monitor the situation.

That will continue, even after the league will address UND's application in June.

Currently, the Summit consists of North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Oral Roberts, Southern Utah, IUPUI, IPFW, Oakland, Mich., Western Illinois, Missouri-Kansas City and Centenary.

Centenary, however, will leave the league after the 2010-11 season. South Dakota will take Centenary's place.

There is a big advantage for UND in joining the Summit as the league automatically qualifies all of its champions for NCAA postseason play.

Wayne Nelson is the Sports Editor for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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