BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — If you think it’s taken the last week to make ESPN’s College GameDay happen in Brookings, think again. The build-up to Saturday’s event at South Dakota University is more than a decade in the making.
SDSU fully transitioned to the Division One Conference in 2008. A lot of the credit for that goes to one of SDSU’s former presidents, a woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
College GameDay is a big day. No offense to the players, but towering athletes are not the only stars here.
“Helloo,” Peggy Gordon Miller said, happily greeting some SDSU alums.
Even at four feet and eleven inches tall, Gordon Miller is a true giant on campus.
“This is great. I’m so glad you’re here to enjoy it. Welcome home,” Gordon Miller said.
This type of fanfare met SDSU’s former president, and blue and yellow aficionado, a few times on our way to the College Green.
“Go Jacks!” Gordon Miller said, high fiving a group of students she walked by.
It’s rewarding for Gordon Miller to see College GameDay at SDSU, because it may not have happened without her. Nearly 20 years ago, she’s the person who starting pushing for the university to go D1. It was an uphill battle.
“Even the legislature tried to pass a low to keep us from doing it. Fought me every way they could.”
Gordon Miller says she knew D1 was right for students, athletes, and campus programs.
“Of course, I wasn’t going to stop. I knew they were worth it and I was going to put up a battle,” Gordon Miller said.
She’s quick to say she had a lot of help from coaches, athletic directors, and everyone who came before and after her. That may be true, but Alumni Association president and CEO Andi Fouberg says if going D1 was a football game, then Gordon Miller was the quarterback who led the team to a touchdown.
“It happened because she did make the decision. I can’t say we’d be here without that. She made the decision. That’s why we’re here,” Fouberg said.
All of those years of work and fighting to go D1 have led us to College Game-Day. Come Saturday, ESPN will pack up, and the big day will be over. However, at least one thing will always remain true, and it’s Peggy Gordon Miller’s signature quote.
“It’s always a great day to be a Jackrabbit,” Gordon Miller said.
SDSU plays North Dakota State University on Saturday. SDSU and NDSU have a big rivalry, but both schools can thank some teamwork for going Division One. Gordon Miller says she and the former president of NDSU worked together to make sure both schools got into the conference.