DSU Athletics Announces Move to Independent Status
Dakota State University Athletics announced today that it plans to leave the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) in July of 2011. DSU plans to continue its association with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as an independent member and will apply to be a part of the NAIA's Association of Independent Institutions group. The plan will be reviewed with the South Dakota Board of Regents at their August meeting.
In making the announcement, Dr. Doug Knowlton, President of DSU affirmed the university's affiliation with the NAIA and stated "The goals and purposes of the NAIA are very much in sync with the mission and vision for DSU and we are particularly determined to continue our utilization of the NAIA's Champions of Character program as a guiding philosophy for our athletic programs. In addition, one of the goals of DSU's strategic plan is to provide the opportunity for our student athletes to compete at a "Championship" level and this move will propel us in this direction".
"Moving to independent status will provide DSU with options in scheduling and allow us more control of our athletic budget," says DSU Athletic Director Gene Wockenfuss. "As an independent school, we will be able to choose our games, and many of those will be against historic rivals so it should increase our fan attendance and interest." Wockenfuss says many of the schools they will target to schedule for games are already members of other conferences. "We have a great rivalry with Great Plains Athletic Conference schools Dakota Wesleyan [Mitchell] and Mount Marty [Yankton] and others in the GPAC. We see this as a proactive move to give our athletes the best opportunities for competition, with schools that are similar to DSU, and close enough that family and fans can travel to see the games." Setting their own game schedule will also allow DSU to play games in areas where the school targets new student recruitment and where alumni reside.
The schedule for the 2010-2011 athletic year is set, and DSU will continue to play teams in the DAC including Black Hills State and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, two teams that will be leaving the conference in 2011. Future contests between and an independent DSU and teams remaining in the DAC will still be an option.
Under independent status, Dakota State athletes could still be recognized with independent All Conference awards and with National All American honors. Qualification for post season play is also open to independent teams.
Wockenfuss says he and the coaches are looking forward to the opportunities that being an independent school can bring. "We are realistic enough to know that being independent means we have to be proactive in scheduling but we see that as a positive situation that will position us to take advantage of future opportunities. We can now control where we play, and when we play, and we can make decisions that best suit our student athletes."
The process of Dakota State declaring itself officially independent begins with a formal notice to the Dakota Athletic Conference. Wockenfuss says that notice has been sent and his coaches are already in the process of scheduling games for 2011-2012.