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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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No Formal Study on Possible Move to D-I

Three NCC schools likely to decide soon.

by Kim Broback

Issue date: 11/7/06 Section: Campus News

Possible changes in the future of the North Central Conference have spawned discussion at Minnesota State about moving to Division I.

Schools such as South Dakota State University and North Dakota State University began playing as D-I teams two years ago. With the University of North Dakota already committed to making the jump to D-I, the University of South Dakota will face making a similar decision. Augustana College, a private school in Sioux Falls, S.D., is also considering its options.

While a move to D-I may draw higher attendance, it could also bring climbing tuition and student fees. MSU Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman and Rick Straka, vice president of finance and administration, said only informal work has been done now and the decision is far from being made.

"It's hard to speculate," Buisman said. "Right now we're just in an observe and react phase." Buisman also said with Augustana and USD being further along in the process, a decision about MSU athletics won't be made until after those schools have declared themselves D-I.

"We're keeping a close eye on these situations," Buisman said. "We haven't formed a task force yet and we don't have nearly as formal a study [as other schools]."

He added there are disadvantages to taking this informal approach, such as not having as much time to compile data before making a necessary decision. Buisman said there are advantages, however, such as knowing how other schools reached decisions.

Straka said there are "myriad" possible options, it's impossible to know right now which route MSU will take.

"There are so many different options," Straka said. "We could be an independent D-II, join another D-II conference, be non-scholarship, re-constitute the North Central Conference by trying to recruit new members - we just don't know yet."

Straka said once decisions are made about USD and Augustana going D-I, a task force will be formed.

"The president will pull together a group to formally review multiple options," Straka said.

Effects on tuition and student fees can't be examined until more formal committees are developed, though Buisman said USD and UND preliminary numbers will be considered since it's similar to MSU in terms of tuition and all are public schools.

"South Dakota sponsors 16 sports. We sponsor 23," Buisman said. "It (going D-I) would drive costs - tuition, room and board costs and travel."

Straka and Buisman agree that while a switch to D-I would change costs, that decision is both indefinite and accompanied by a number of other possibilities.

"This is bigger than just an athletic department decision," Buisman said. "We're a long ways from making decisions."

He added that it would be "unfair to put the entire burden on students" of D-I was decided upon for MSU. Buisman also said D-I subsidies were significantly more than D-II subsidies, though the expenses would increase as well.

Straka said UND has not laid out exactly what it will do yet, but a D-I move will mean a significant increase in student fees. He said North Dakota has a limitation on state appropriation and increasing tuition to pay for it.

"There is no language in Minnesota that would prohibit appropriation or tuition," Straka said. "But we'd have to go to the Board of Trustees and bargaining units, and get consultation from students, faculty and staff."

Straka said even if MSU went D-I it would have to determine what "type" of D-I it would be.

"It's kind of like asking a freshman or sophomore in high school where they're going to college," Straka said. "It's just too soon to know. Yes, it's a possibility that the athletic department might not look like it does now."

Kim Broback is the Reporter Assistant News Editor