Mayville State moves ahead as Dakota Athletic Conference drops to four teams

The Dakota Athletic Conference will remain as the name given for the home to Mayville State, Valley City State, Jamestown College and Dickinson State.

Mayville State-UND basketball
Mayville State's Ron Dunlap (44) fouls UND's Jimmy Hoy (32) in the first half of of a game at the Betty Engelstad Arena. Herald file photo by Eric Hylden.

The Dakota Athletic Conference will remain as the name given for the home to Mayville State, Valley City State, Jamestown College and Dickinson State.

Essentially, though, Mayville State will forge ahead as an independent.

"We're going to be independent next year along with Valley City, Jamestown and Dickinson," Mayville State athletic director Mike Moore said. "We'll see how it goes. We're not disappointed, but we're dealing with the cards that we've been dealt and trying to make the best of it."

Formerly known as the DAC-10, the conference has evaporated with schools moving to Division II and another (Dakota State) opting to leave and become an independent.

The DAC is an eight-team league this season but will dip to just four members beginning in the fall, with the loss of Minot State, Black Hills State, South Dakota Mines and Dakota State.


That means the DAC will fall below the required six teams the NAIA deems necessary to give conference champions automatic-qualifying status to postseason tournaments.

"We're moving ahead and the schedules have been approved for next year," Moore said. "Right now, we're talking to the commissioner of the independent institutions."

Playoffs still possible

Mayville State's primary concern as an independent is postseason play and the costs associated with its travel. For the most part, the Comets can partake in a tournament of independents that fills the place of a DAC tournament.

The independent tournament advances its winner to the national tournament, but the problem is in the location of these independent tournaments.

For example, the men's basketball independent tournament for next season is in Denver.

"Those are just some lengthy places to get to," Moore said. "From a qualifying standpoint, on the other hand, it could be easier to get to national tournaments. There were 12 teams that were eligible for the men's basketball independent tournament last year, and I would think they wouldn't be the caliber we see in the DAC."

Although the DAC name could dissolve in the future, Moore says the remaining four DAC schools would continue to schedule each other.


DAC commissioner Lavern Jessen told the Dickinson Press last week the future of the league is uncertain.

"This year is a year for the four schools to weigh their options, and determine what's going to happen to their programs the following year," Jessen said.

Geographical woes

Mayville State's options apart from independence are quite limited. Officials from Jamestown and Dickinson will be meeting with members of the Frontier League in the coming weeks to discuss inclusion into a conference that is primarily based in Montana but also has members as far west as Oregon and Utah.

"(Jamestown and Dickinson) are more inclined, particularly Dickinson, to see what transpires from those meetings," Moore said. "Us and Valley City have determined that without some sort of divisional concept that (the Frontier League) isn't in the cards at all. We have opted out of that meeting."

Moore said the travel associated with the Frontier outweighs the league's benefits.

"It's a solution," he said, "but in my opinion, not a good one. I guess for some, it's the best of what's available."

With the Frontier essentially nixed as an option to the west, Mayville State would like to look south to the GPAC (Great Plains Athletic Conference). However, the GPAC remains steadfast in its league-admission stipulation that institutions must be faith-based.


"We're hopeful, but we're not optimistic that the GPAC might eventually open up to state schools," Moore said. "They're pretty content -- at least most of the presidents are -- with the current arrangement. That's maybe a dead end. We're not holding our breath, but I guess stranger things have happened."

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to .

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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