Plan to restrict DI funds fails Senate


Tara Bordewyk, Community News Service

PIERRE (CNS) – Preventing the use of state dollars to fund South Dakota State University’s proposed move to Division I athletics failed to get approval from the Senate State Affairs Committee Feb. 19.

Senate Bill 205 would restrict the state and the Board of Regents from giving money to SDSU to aid in the expenses needed for the change. The bill would prevent the state from paying the “deficit” that SDSU might face when going to DI, State Sen. Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, said. Kloucek said that state tax money should not go to the switch.

In moving to DI, SDSU will likely face added expenses in order to make current facilities large enough to handle increased crowds at sporting events and larger numbers of students attending the university that some say will result if the school moves to DI.

Tad Perry, director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, said the board has spent months tackling the issue of SDSU’s proposed change to DI. He said the board has decided to permit institutions to change divisions as long as they follow the strict guidelines that are set out by the board.

Perry said that, unlike Kloucek’s bill, the regent’s proposal would include all state schools.

Before they came to their decision, he said the members of the Board of Regents consulted people with athletic expertise as well as those who were familiar with the way DI schools work.

As part of its policy, the board requires schools to find an appropriate athletic conference to join before changing to DI. SDSU is still searching for a conference.

Perry said that if the state cut off funding, the university would have to cut scholarships and coaches’ salaries in order to stay out of a deficit.

The state is penalizing universities if they need money to build new facilities, State Sen. Drue Vitter, R-Hill City, said.

Kloucek said the DI change is not only a concern for taxpayers. Some alumni and students of SDSU aren’t in favor of it.

He said the state needs to put a limit on funding the division changes.

The committee voted 9-0 to table the bill.