When officials from The Summit League made their two-day site visit to Vermillion back in January, the word was that the conference was expecting a final decision on USD’s admission to come before June.
Then, on April 14, a decision was made (by unanimous vote) and on April 15, an official press conference was held. Definitely quicker then I bet a lot of people — including myself — anticipated. As USD president Jim Abbott even said, “This league is not one that moves slowly.” Apparently not.
The mood at the press conference, at the new student center in Vermillion, was definitely excitement, and maybe relief. Everyone had to know this decision was coming, I mean, there really wasn’t any doubt that USD was getting in. But to finally hear it was probably a relief for everyone involved. When USD first announced its Division I transition, one of the issues that kept coming up was conference affiliation. But not just membership in any conference; USD wanted to get back with its long-time rivals, SDSU and NDSU. Wednesday’s announcement now makes that a “when” not “if.”
Anyway, just a few quick thoughts on Wednesday’s historic announcement at USD.
- USD officially becomes a league member on July 1, 2011. I’ve done the math and that’s in 817 days.
- USD will begin conference play during the 2011-2012 season, but won’t be fully eligible for regular season and tournament championships until the 2012-2013 season.
- Summit League commissioner Tom Douple said the conference will encourage its 10 members to schedule USD in the years leading up to 2011. Said Douple, “Gives those coaches and athletes an opportunity to get to know the conference.”
- The fee for USD to enter The Summit League is $250,000, which will be paid out over the next three years.
- I’ve already answered this question like 200 times in the last day, but USD’s football program is NOT affected by this announcement. USD will remain in the Great West Conference, and will likely try to gain admittance into the Missouri Valley Football Conference (where SDSU plays).
- After yesterday’s press conference, I caught up with USD women’s basketball coach Ryun Williams for his thoughts. And here’s a snippet of what he said, “It’s a very competitive league … the bar has been set quite high, especially in basketball … It gives us something to shoot for. When 2012-2013 rolls around, that’s when we need to be at our peak.”
- I also caught up with men’s basketball player Louie Krogman. This is what he had to say about the SDSU rivalry: “Nobody in school right now knows anything about the rivalry, which is tough. It’ll definitely be nice to get it back. I’m just glad I’ll have one year playing in it.”
The University of North Dakota was also brought up a few times at the press conference, specifically on what The Summit League is doing as far as UND’s membership. Douple went on to say that the conference has UND’s application, but has not taken it to the university presidents. Douple has been consistent on his stance, that the league will take no action until UND figures out its Fighting Sioux logo situation. He then said, “If and when they resolve that, we’ll take a good look (at them).”
To me, the sad thing about the whole North Dakota thing, is that even if UND resolves the issue before 2011, they could still realistically get in The Summit League at the same time USD does. Somehow, that doesn’t make any sense. Other than some NCAA wrist-slaps, UND could get away without any punishment. Yeah, having UND in The Summit League makes sense (and will probably happen anyway), but the whole logo issue has already set the university back in its D-I transition.