USD will not pursue plans to move to Division I status

USD will not pursue plans to move to Division I status The University of South Dakota officially announced that it will remain in NCAA Division II and will not pursue plans to move to Division I status for its athletic programs. The announcement was made at a news conference Sept. 26 on The University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion by Acting President Donald C. Dahlin. USD Athletic Director Kelly Higgins, coaches and athletes also were part of the announcement.

In the past few weeks two members of the North Central Conference (NCC), North Dakota State University and the University of Northern Colorado, announced their plans to pursue Division I status for their athletic programs. South Dakota State University is also studying the feasibility of a move to Division I status.

According to Dahlin, USD has concluded that there are many reasons that it is in the student's and university's best interest for it to continue as a Division II athletic institution. Dahlin said the decision was based on USD's overall strategy, competitiveness, commitment to the NCC, consideration of all constituencies�and financial impact.

"We have a renewed emphasis on building stronger academic programs and would like to implement more rigorous entrance requirements," Dahlin said. While USD clearly values its strong Division II athletic program, it places its emphasis and its resources on the "student" part of the "student-athlete," he said.

A move to Division I would force USD's athletic teams to compete against schools with larger budgets and established programs, possibly sacrificing its competitive edge for many years to come.

Another key reason to stay in Division II was based on consideration of several constituencies, including students, the community, alumni, USD Foundation members and the people of South Dakota in general. Dahlin said it would be unfair to ask current student athletes to give up the opportunity to compete for conference, regional and national titles.

dent interest in its athletic contests, potentially decreasing revenue.

If USD moved to Division I, it may not even find another conference, forcing it to play as an independent and perhaps ending rivalries that mean so much in athletic competition.

One of the University's constituents has already stated its stand on this issue. The USD Foundation Trustees recently voted unanimously to remain in Division II and thus help to maintain

the NCC.� "As the Foundation provides significant funding to the University, its support is vital to our decision," said Dahlin.

Financially, competition in Division I would require a significant increase in financial resources. At the present time, USD generates approximately $3 million in revenue for its athletic

programs. USD would need an additional $3-4 million in yearly revenue to be competitive at the Division I level. Salaries, scholarships and travel expenses would all need to be funded at a

much greater level than the University could support or raise from its donors.

According to Dahlin, a move to Division I doesn't guarantee increased revenue for the University. He said there is no evidence to support that Division I AA status increases enrollments or

results in greater alumni giving.

"We feel confident that this decision is the right move. We believe our constituents agree that in nearly every way, staying in Division II will be the best thing for this university, which has a

strong academic and athletic tradition of excellence. In this decision, we have stayed the course for maintaining that commitment," Dahlin said.

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