SDSU mix-up turns into national coverage


Athletics marketing director makes connection, Van Pelt makes amends

South Dakotans don’t take it lightly when people mix up South Dakota and North Dakota, and South Dakota State Jackrabbits don’t take it lightly when people mix up SDSU with San Diego State University. 

EPSN’s Scott Van Pelt wore Jacks gear during a broadcast last week as a way to show his sincerest apologies for mixing the two up during an earlier broadcast. This achievement was accomplished by two social media posts from the SDSU athletic marketing account.

SDSU Athletic Marketing Director Jon Treiber, who runs the @GoJacksSDSU Twitter and Facebook account, decided to mention this mistake on these accounts.

“Scott Van Pelt made his own retraction, he knew what happened, his producer was the one that was on air with him on that segment, and he said he felt bad,” Treiber said. “When I posted [on Facebook and Twitter] that I thought to add that little tidbit about Scott Van Pelt.”

Van Pelt’s mistake aired just as March Madness had begun to get headline exposure on major sports networks, with constant updates of which teams were landing a seed in the basketball bracket and who was being matched up.

With SDSU winning the Summit League Championship and claiming their own seed in the bracket, Van Pelt misspoke the school acronym as San Diego State University and quickly retracted his mistake.

This ultimately led to a formal apology from Van Pelt, who said he would wear SDSU gear on the show as a way to make up for the slip-up.

While Treiber was surprised SDSU was ultimately mentioned on SportsCenter, he was more surprised by the timeliness of Van Pelts response to his tweet. Van Pelt’s Tweet back was less than three minutes from the original tweet being posted.

“We sent stuff back to him via direct message to get stuff sent to him for sizes and shipping location, so I was surprised by his initial promptness [with that as well],” Treiber said.

Van Pelt and Treiber communicated back and forth on Twitter about sending Jacks gear to the station and when Van Pelt would wear the gear. Van Pelt contacted the athletics marketing the day he wore it on television.

What makes it better: SDSU was then matched up in the March Madness bracket with the University of Maryland, Van Pelt’s alma mater. Treiber called it “very, very ironic.”

Van Pelt still wore the SDSU gear on Thursday for a period of the broadcast, despite his connection to Maryland and being a fan. Treiber said, “we tip our cap to him. That was a classy move … He was beyond gracious.”

While this national coverage did not directly have to do with anything the school did, it was still a unique experience that surprised many.

“We could not have paid for that two and half minutes of coverage,” Treiber said.

Treiber believes this has been a step toward the school creating its own identity separate from San Diego State. Treiber also believes athletic improvement is helping put SDSU on the national radar, especially in football and basketball.

When Nikell Lendt usually types in “SDSU” on Google, San Diego State tends to come to the top of the page instead of South Dakota State. This, as well as other people mistaking San Diego State for South Dakota State, is a mistake that happens too often, she said.

“It’s annoying how SDSU always plays second fiddle to San Diego,” said Lendt, a sophomore early childhood education major. 

She thinks people should be able to make the distinction between the two universities by now.