UND athletics: Hovering over the Summit
When the presidents of the Summit League meet Monday in Chicago, UND and the possibility of conference expansion will certainly be discussed. That doesn't mean UND athletic director Brian Faison envisions the league taking any action. "My assumpt...
When the presidents of the Summit League meet Monday in Chicago, UND and the possibility of conference expansion will certainly be discussed.
That doesn't mean UND athletic director Brian Faison envisions the league taking any action.
"My assumption is that the commissioner will provide an update to the presidents about UND -- and maybe other institutions as well; I don't know -- and possible expansion," Faison said.
The lack of action is expected, Faison said. If the league feels inclined to add UND, that process would likely move forward at a fall meeting of the presidents.
"That's been the scenario provided to us all along," Faison said.
UND has applied to join the Summit, but the league has said that UND would not be considered for membership until the controversy surrounding the school's nickname and logo is resolved. In April, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education decided to retire the nickname.
"The issue (for the Summit League) is where we are at in the process of retiring the nickname," Faison said. "We've had a clear direction from the board (SBOHE) and what just happened at Standing Rock seems to be another statement in regards to that status."
On Thursday, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council voted to discontinue further discussion of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. The decision likely clears the final hurdle in the retirement of the nickname and logo.
Currently, the Summit consists of North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Oral Roberts, Southern Utah, IUPUI, IPFW, Oakland (Mich.), Western Illinois, Missouri-Kansas City and Centenary. Centenary will leave the league after the 2010-11 season and will be replaced by the University of South Dakota.
Not only would the Summit reunite UND with its three former Dakota rivals, but it may be UND's only option for a true Division I conference. UND currently competes in the Great West Conference, essentially a league based on a scheduling alliance of Division I independents that doesn't boast an automatic qualifier for postseason play.
Apart from the Summit, the next likeliest conference is the Big Sky, which has resisted expansion in the past.
However, there has been speculation that the University of Montana and possibly Montana State could leave the Big Sky for an FBS conference, such as the Western Athletic Conference.
Were that to happen, UND could be a candidate to fill those vacancies in the Big Sky. It might be an intriguing possibility for UND because the Big Sky sponsors football whereas the Summit does not.
Right now, though, Montana's Big Sky exit is simply speculation.
Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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