Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dragged to Division I? 

The local paper last weekend carried an article on SCSU's exploration of going to Division I in athletics. It is portrayed as a decision forced upon SCSU by the defection of other programs to D-I from the North Central Conference in which SCSU plays.
North Dakota has assembled a task force that will study whether the school should move to Division I for all of its sports teams. The task force has been asked to do a survey on the issue and make a recommendation by the end of this academic school year.

If the Sioux decide to move up, one of St. Cloud State�s options would be to follow, having all of 21 of its teams compete at the Division I level. Currently, the men�s and women�s hockey teams are the St. Cloud State teams competing at that level.

�We love Division II, we love the North Central Conference � that has never changed,� Kurtz said. �We have seven very solid members in the conference, but scheduling is continuing to get more difficult. We have problems scheduling nonconference games.�
For example, we have a twenty-seven game basketball schedule. Playing each team in the conference twice means finding fifteen non-conference opponents. Because of this our schedule includes two games against independent Upper Iowa, which went D-II only two years ago, and Wayne State College. (There are several games against the Northern Sun conference or NSIC, long considered a lower level of competition to the North Central.)

I'm told that if UND should decide to jump to Division I, Nebraska-Omaha would also leave the NCC, leaving the choices as going to D-I ourselves or joining another D-II conference, most likely the NSIC. Jerry Henkemeyer, an SCSU Hall of Fame football and baseball player, says in the Times' article, that the costs are not just the $4.5 million additional we would need to pay.

�You have to have student support and the faculty has to play a bigger role in it.�

Henkemeyer said that that support is not only in terms of attending games.

�Student fees would have to go up and the faculty would have to have more understanding of athletics and that they want to work with the athletes in the programs,� he said. �There would be more scholarship players, so you�re going to have to have the faculty keep an eye on these students that they are doing their studies and keeping up their grades.�
I don't understand this comment at all. We have not had a problem with scholarship students in the past. Coaches have by and large recruited athletes who can meet our academic standards (we're not exactly Stanford here). You can bet that quote will show up in discussions on campus if the decision is made to move up.

The Sioux have the largest budget in the NCC and are fearful of proposals to cut the maximum number of football scholarships offered from 36 to 24. North Dakota also is hearing about not playing North Dakota State, which was its biggest rival before the Bison moved to Division I before the 2004-05 school year.
SCSU is at 28 scholarships, it says (I have heard from fans that it is less than this but cannot confirm that.) As I said before, while the D-I limit is 65, you can go for a non-scholarship program. But doing so would mean we would still not play the Dakota schools -- as they are going to up their scholarships. And those are the games the boosters of SCSU athletics, particularly football, want to see most. If you want to play, you have to pay.

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