The announcement about the jump to D1 is only the beginning for Augusanta athletics. Now the university has to nail down all the details about things like conferences and scholarships before it all becomes a reality.
Augustana Head Basketball Coach Tom Billeter says the decision to go D1 came as a relief.
“People have been talking about it forever. I know as a coaching staff and coaches, we’re just glad to know,” Billeter said.
Billeter says he would love to see Augustana play in the Summit League some day.
“It would be a natural fit for us, especially with South Dakota and South Dakota State. It’s a great league, arguably the best.” said Billeter.
But a lot has to happen before Augie joins a league or conference.
“This isn’t flipping a switch, you’re in Division 1, it’s a process. It’s getting our plan in place, putting the committee together that can help us formulate a plan,” said Augustana Athletic Director Josh Morton.
Morton say the plan is to elevate all 19 sports at Augie to the D1 level. He says that will require a lot of fundraising and help from the community.
“Our working goal in our department is to say by December of 2020 that we’ve secured an invite, within the next two years, so it’s fairly aggressive,” said Morton.
Both coach and athletic director are sure that this is the right move at the right time for Augustana University.
“I believe in 10, 15, 20 years, I think people are going to look back and say this was an outstanding move just like they have with our neighbors. Not very many people are doubting that move any more and I think people are going to say Augie did the right thing,” said Billeter.
“Our current student athletes have a chance to be on the ground floor at something that’s going to be really special. when they look back in 20 years, 30 years, they were pioneers at Augustana University,” said Morton.
One of many challenges facing Augustana is that the Summit League doesn’t offer football or wrestling.