Summit commissioner pleased with Jackrabbits

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

The Summit League commissioner, Tom Douple, is a busy man.

However, this academic semester, Douple has left his office in Elmhurst, Ill., and seen the Jackrabbits earn a win in the NCAA Women’s Cup (soccer). On Dec. 6, he made a visit to the SDSU campus for the men and women’s basketball double-header.

Douple liked what he saw when he toured the campus.

“This is a great atmosphere,” said the fourth-year commissioner of the Summit League.

Douple enjoyed the “fabulous” Wellness Center and liked the new meeting rooms for both basketball teams, adjacent to Frost Arena.

The 1976 graduate of Louisiana State University has been pleased with what SDSU has added to the league.

“Fred Oien (SDSU’s director of athletics) and Dr. Chicoine (SDSU’s president) and the entire staff are really a joy to work with. It has certainly been a highlight to work with them,” he said. “SDSU’s women’s basketball program addition has been great for the league as a whole, and all other sports have added a lot to the competition to all sports.”

The biggest event annually for the Summit League is the women and men’s basketball tournaments. This year the tournament will take place in Sioux Falls. SDSU was named the host of the tourney just days after officially joining the Summit League Conference.

“It’s going to be really exciting. Ticket sales have already doubled from last year in Tulsa,” said Douple. “We’re going to take the top-eight teams; both (men’s and women’s championship) games we have on ESPN. We’re excited to have them in Sioux Falls, and Sioux Falls is excited.”

SDSU will host the tournament in 2009 and 2010, and the host for 2011 and 2012 tournaments has not been picked yet.

Douple cited Tulsa, which hosted the tournament from 2003-07, Sioux Falls and Detroit as possible future sites.

Douple is pleased with the progress of the improvements done to the Sioux Falls Arena so far.

“I visited a couple weeks ago, and they did what they just said they were going to do,” said the former Southern Utah University athletics director. “They have a good handle on the operations done there.”

One of the “highlights” that stood out from the 2008 Summit League Tournament was the mascot fight during the men’s basketball final game on March 13.

The mascots of IUPUI, “Jawz” the Jaguar, and Oral Roberts, “Eli” the Golden Eagle, had a “play” fight.

In the tussle, Eli’s head came off, and an actual fight erupted.

Douple and staff have made measures to stop anything like that from happening again.

“That’s a way to get publicity, but that’s not the publicity we’re after,” he said. “If any one of them (mascots) crosses the half-court line, there’s going to be some suspensions of mascots.”

Douple claimed that the conference is solid with the additions of SDSU, North Dakota State and IPFW in the last few years.

The Louisiana native said that the University of South Dakota and the University of North Dakota are interested in joining the Summit League.