With big blast of Pride, SDSU joins Mid-Con

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

As the band played “Ring the Bell,” a thunderous applause, punctuated with cowbells, filled the Volstorff Ballroom during a press conference to tell the world SDSU was

After three years of anxious waiting and wondering, SDSU proudly announced Aug. 31 it was joining the Mid-Continent Conference.

“It’s a great day to be a Jackrabbit,” said President Peggy Miller with an ear-to-ear grin during the press conference.

SDSU was the third school in two days to announce its acceptance into the conference. Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne announced the day prior, and North Dakota State University announced just hours before SDSU’s press conference.

“The Presidents Council unanimously wanted to invite South Dakota State into the Mid-Con Conference,” said Tom Douple, Mid-Con commissioner. “We wanted an institution that has a lot of character and commitment to Division-I athletics.”

Douple was part of a site visit team that toured SDSU in mid-August. He said the Presidents Council was impressed with the team’s report on SDSU and is pleased it has accepted the invitation to join the conference.

SDSU submitted its credentials to the Big Sky Conference in 2004; however, the conference only expanded by one school and chose the University of Northern Colorado. But Miller said Mid-Con is the right fit for SDSU.

“It is a conference that has decided where it wants to be in 10 years-among the top conferences in the country-and has made some plans for getting there,” she said. “It has schools that put the emphasis on student athlete rather than the other way around.”

Some students believe conference affiliation is a sign of relief as well as a reinforcement of SDSU’s move to Division I.

“I think it’s good and the right step moving forward into a conference like this with so many people having doubts,” said Erin Hurly, a landscape design senior.

Outside of athletics, the new conference won’t largely impact the average student.

“I don’t know what to think about it,” said Megan Siefkes, a psychology senior.

SDSU will be an official member of Mid-Con July 1, 2007 and is automatically eligible for to league titles. In 2008, 18 of SDSU’s 21 sports will be eligible for postseason play. Mid-Con doesn’t include football, wrestling or equestrian programs. SDSU already belongs to conferences for football and wrestling: the Great West Football Conference and Western Wrestling Conference.

Athletic Director Fred Oien said the conference comes as a reward to the athletic department for the hard work and persistence with the D-I move.

The conference affiliation will affect more than just SDSU.

“It’s huge for Brookings,” said Brookings Mayor Scott Munsterman. “It’s one step up the ladder to better opponents.”

The state as whole will also benefit because it puts South Dakota on the map in a different way. It will attract more outside interest, athletically and academically, said Gov. Mike Rounds, an SDSU alumnus.

Douple said Miller’s leadership has been crucial throughout the entire D-I transition.

“You are fortunate to have a leader on this campus who stepped up and made a commitment through the good and bad times.”

But the entire transition isn’t complete just yet, Miller said.

“Well, as far as I am concerned, the last step will be when one of our teams wins a national championship,” she said. “I think I need to give them a little time to do that, but I know it is going to be sooner than most people think.”

#1.884397:2949539917.jpg:midcon02.jpg:Mid-Con Commissioner Tom Douple, left, accounced SDSU’s invitation to the sports conference Aug. 31.: