It's been just over a month since Black Hills State University and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology submitted applications for membership in NCAA Division Two. Monday, both schools were given the green light.
For the next three years, Black Hills State and South Dakota School of Mines will experience an era of transition. It's all part of a long, but exciting road to Division II.
"We have improved ourselves. Being affiliated with the NCAA is going to be a huge step for our students, our student athletes, recognition of our Alumni. Overall it's one of those steps that will be a landmark type decision down the line," SDSM & T Athletic Director Dick Kaiser said.
"I just think it's in the best interest of our student athletes to be able to compete at a high level, in NCAA Division Two," adds BHSU athletic director Jhett Albers. "Their strategic platform, what it's all about is for student athletes to get an opportunity to get an education and earn a degree while still being able to compete in sports."
Each school will continue to compete in the NAIA and Dakota Athletic Conference through the 2011-12 season. That will be followed by a provisional year. If all goes well, both programs will receive official Division II status prior to the 2013-14 season.
But first, they'll have to find a home. Both schools have had preliminary discussions with the Northern Sun and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
"We're really excited about the possibilities of those two conferences and if those don't come to fruition, we won't be an independent. So we'll have to make some moves. That's a long ways down the road," Kaiser said.
"Going out of the DAC and competing at a high level wherever we go in Division II, whatever conference we go into, we just want to continue the success. Whether it be at the NAIA level and now going to the Division II level, we want to position ourselves to come in and compete and be as successful as we have in the past," Albers said.
Black Hills State and School of Mines join the University of Sioux Falls on the list of South Dakota schools making the transition to Division II. USF is one year ahead in the process, and will begin it's second year of candidacy this fall. Augustana and Northern State are currently the state's only official Division II members.
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