General News

USD to Move Athletic Programs to Division I
VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota President James W. Abbott announced today that via letter last week he formally requested Regental permission to begin the process of moving its athletic programs to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-AA for football and Division I for all other sports.
Currently, The University of South Dakota participates at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the North Central Conference (NCC). The U sponsors 17 intercollegiate, varsity sports with more than 350 student athletes.

In July, Abbott appointed a 26 member Athletic Review Task Force, chaired by First Fidelity Bank President John Lillibridge and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Tina Keller, to review The U's NCAA division classification and conference affiliation. The task force, comprised of students, faculty, alumni, administrators, coaches and community members, retained the Inter-Collegiate Athletic Consulting group to assist in a comprehensive review. On Nov. 6, 2006, the task force recommended to President Abbott that the University reclassify its athletic programs to Division I.

"We felt very comfortable in Division II and in the NCC, but with the University of North Dakota's Division I announcement earlier this year, it is clear that the competitive experience our student athletes have enjoyed for nearly a century will no longer be available in Division II," Abbott said. "Our student athletes and fans deserve a competitive experience. Based on the recommendation of the task force, the consultant and the information gathered via public forums, we are convinced that seeking a change in athletic classification is in the best interest of our students, our fans and the University."

Strong academics and competitive athletics co-exist at USD. For the 2006 spring term, the all-athlete grade point average totaled 3.15 on a 4.0 scale compared with 3.01 for all undergraduates. And, in the past three years alone, seven of The U's student athletes were awarded prestigious NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships, earning The U a sixth place ranking among the 1024 NCAA member institutions in terms scholarships awarded. Since 2003, athletic teams in 14 sports participated in NCAA post season competition; a member of both the men's and women's basketball squads have been named national player of the year; and two USD athletes have been finalists for the Harlon Hill trophy-the Division II outstanding football player award.

Pending approval from the Board of Regents, the University will enter an exploratory year in 2007-2008. The exploratory year is a transition year allowing the University to address primary issues including: alumni and fan support, conference affiliation and funding.

"The University of South Dakota, the state's flagship institution founded in 1862, values its role as the state's comprehensive liberal arts institution. We want to compete with institutions that share our commitment to academics and have a similar mission," Abbott said.

About The University of South Dakota

Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, the state's only School of Law, School of Medicine, the accredited Beacom School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. It has an enrollment of approximately 8,700 students taught by 400 faculty members. More information is available at

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--Courtesy of University of South Dakota