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UND remains confident in Summit League despite IUPUI move

In January, UND announced its intent to leave the Big Sky Conference for the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference. Before UND even officially lands in the Summit League in the 2018-19 school year, however, the conference has lost...

Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple hands out gifts to Athletic Director Brian Faison, left, and UND President Mark Kennedy during a press conference in Grand Forks in January. (Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)
Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple hands out gifts to Athletic Director Brian Faison, left, and UND President Mark Kennedy during a press conference in Grand Forks in January. (Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)

In January, UND announced its intent to leave the Big Sky Conference for the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Before UND even officially lands in the Summit League in the 2018-19 school year, however, the conference has lost a member.

Indiana Purdue-Indianapolis (IUPUI) announced Wednesday it will leave the Summit for the Horizon League effective July 1 and begin competing in the league this upcoming school year.

That move doesn't waver UND athletic director Brian Faison's confidence in the Fighting Hawks' new league.

"You can't know in this day and age with collegiate sports what might happen in conference membership," Faison said. "We're an example of that. You just have to be prepared and make the best move you can."

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Faison said he spoke with Summit League commissioner Tom Douple on Wednesday morning to discuss the IUPUI decision.

UND hasn't attended any Summit League meetings yet, but the school will attend in the fall, although UND won't be a voting member of the league until July 2018.

Faison said conference expansion will be a hot topic at upcoming meetings.

"The conference has to keep options in its hip pocket," he said. "There are several candidates out there."

IUPUI's move leaves the Summit with eight teams. UND will make nine teams when it joins the league.

"IUPUI was a 20-year member of our league and while we will miss the relationships forged over that time, the Summit League remains a solid entity going forward," Douple said in a statement. "The recent addition of the University of North Dakota for the fall of 2018 is a move that strengthens the quality of league membership."

Douple said he was first notified of IUPUI's intentions on June 23.

"We will continue our efforts to explore the expansion options that we currently have and create new membership options for the future," Douple said. "When membership changes have occurred in the Summit League, there has been short-term disappointment, but in the long term, the end result has proven to be a stronger league."

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Summit League members currently include North Dakota State, South Dakota State, South Dakota, Omaha, Denver, Oral Roberts, Western Illinois and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Since 2010, the Summit has lost Centenary, Southern Utah, UMKC, Oakland and now IUPUI. The conference has gained Denver, South Dakota, Omaha and eventually UND. Oral Roberts briefly left the league during that time, as well.

Related Topics: UND SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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