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Dakota St. Contemplating Athletics Future

May 17, 2010, 10:45 PM by Matt Holsen

Dakota St. Contemplating Athletics Future
MADISON, SD - Dakota State University is facing an uncertain future. With fellow Dakota Athletic Conference member Minot State headed to Division II, and Black Hills State and the School of Mines approved to seek D-II status, the Trojans may soon be forced to make a move of their own.

"It's a little worrysome but it could be an exciting time for us also. Either a new conference, or the very extreme is division two status. And we've just kind of got to work our way through this," Men's Basketball Coach Gary Garner said.

If it were up to DSU Athletic Director Gene Wockenfuss, he'd keep things in the Dakota Athletic Conference just the way they are. But with three of the eight schools looking to leave, the league's days appeared numbered.

With only five teams, the DAC would no longer qualify for automatic bids into the NAIA postseason. That's a compromise Wockenfuss isn't willing to make.

"Not being able to do that, I don't think is fair to them, fair to our institution and fair to the quality of education we're providing to our student athletes right now. So we're definitely going to pursue what's best for our student athletes," Wockenfuss said.

That process has already begun. With USF leaving the Great Plains Athletic Conference for Division II, Dakota State promptly pursued membership in the GPAC last April. But that application was denied because they weren't a faith-based institution like the rest of the schools in the conference.

"We think it's a great fit but at the same time it's a two way street and they're going to have to feel the same way to make this marriage work. Right now that would be our top priority to try and get into that conference," Wockenfuss said.

Wockenfuss thinks its still possible that the GPAC might revisit the idea in the near future, but if they don't...

"We'd have to revisit the DAC and more than likely have to start a new conference with the five schools and then hopefully draw in any other schools that might be interested in an NAIA affiliation," Wockenfuss said.

Something he doesn't consider to be the best case scenario for Dakota State.

Wockenfuss went on to say that because of location and DSU's past history with rivals already in the GPAC, joining the conference just makes sense. He also says going Division II wouldn't be in the best interest of the school, competitively, at this time.

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