SDSU considers Division I move

Sarah Passick

Sarah Passick

Carr Sports Associates, a sports consulting firm, revealed Friday the first phase of a study concerning SDSU’s move from Division II to Division I.

At this time, SDSU has not reached a conclusion. However, due to the changing environment in the NCAA and North Central Conference, SDSU desires to be in an informed decision, SDSU’s Athletic Director Fred M. Oien said.

“When the opportunity comes; you will have to be ready,” he said. “No formal decisions have been made at the moment.”

A final report from Carr Sports Associates, including recommendations, is expected to be completed in the next six to eight weeks.

If Carr Sports Associates recommends that SDSU explore the Division I option further, the university may proceed with a regional market analysis to determine revenue potential, along with preparing a strategic plan for the transition from Division II to Division I, Oien said.

Carr Sports Associates, who are conducting the study, identified four critical areas?NCAA transition period, financial requirements, facilities and conference affiliation?for consideration in making a move from Division I, with the option of playing Division I-AA football.

Under current NCAA policy, SDSU would require to be on a five-year reclassification period.

During that time, SDSU would not be eligible for NCAA Championships. In seven years, SDSU would be eligible as an automatic qualifier in all sports except men’s basketball. Men’s basketball requires 13 years.

The consultants compared SDSU’s current budget to the average budget of schools sponsoring Division I-AA football and the average budget of schools competing in the Big Sky Conference. SDSU’s budget was $2.3 million less than schools competing in the Big Sky Conference.

“The difference would need to be made up primarily in the areas of financial aid and in the areas of personnel,” Gerald K. O’Dell, Carr Sports Associates, said.

The consultants found that fund-raising, marketing and promotions, and ticket sells were higher than Division II schools and were average with Division I schools.

“We feel this bows extremely well for SDSU,” O’Dell said. “It puts the foundation in place if a move is made to Division I-AA.”

SDSU should continue to improve sport facilities bringing a proposed Wellness Center to reality, an indoor practice facility and continuing improving Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, Bill Carr, Carr Sports Associates, said.

“Conference affiliation is the cornerstone of this issue because there is a real need to be in a conference before a move is made,” Carr said.

Are there any doors open for SDSU to join a conference?

“Nationally, dialogue is underway,” he said. “This is an extremely fluent time for intercollegiate athletics, in fact the dynamics for change are strong.”

The market for intercollegiate athletics looks bright, he said.

It’s important for SDSU to be ready, to responded and to move with appropriate actions, Carr said.

SDSU is one of four land-grant universities that does not compete at the NCAA Division I level.