SD Legislators refuse to micromanage SDSU move to DI

Michelle Herrick

Michelle Herrick

PIERRE (CNS) – Some lawmakers are concerned South Dakota State University will want the state to pay for its move to Division I athletics if the school can’t come up with enough money on its own.

The Senate Education Committee killed a bill prohibiting that Feb. 3. Senate Bill 140 was defeated in the committee because most of the senators didn’t want to micromanage the finances of the university, according to the committee’s chair Sen. Ed Olson, R-Mitchell.

Sen. Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, who has been leading legislative dissent against the university’s move, sponsored the bill. He also proposed a resolution that would have encouraged the Board of Regents to rescind its support of the Division I move. The resolution was killed in committee on Jan. 27. “We are the best of the best right now whether we are Division I or Division II,” Kloucek said. “But now is just not the right time to make that move.”

Harry Mansheim of Brookings testified for the bill. “We need to consider what’s good for the majority,” Mansheim said. “This is only going to benefit a small percentage of students. Very few will have better jobs than what they’re now getting.”

Ted Perry with the Board of Regents opposed the bill, because SDSU said it was going to raise the funds through private donations and other external sources. “The Board of Regents did not take this issue lightly,” Perry said. “We had hearings and consultations with experts in the Intercollegiate Athletics.”

Sen. Paul Symens, D-Amherst, said the decision should be up to the Board of Regents.

“No Legislature can do the fine tuning of the policy for the Board of Regents,” he said.

Sen. Clarence Kooistra, R-Garretson, said the Legislature needs to step up and take responsibility. “I am concerned about the cost of travel, coaches’ salaries and the enhancement of the athletic facilities,” Kooistra said. The committee voted 6-1 to send the bill to the 36th day, which kills a bill in the current 35-day session.