USD accepts invitation to join Summit League

Coyotes to become 11th member, will begin league competition in 2011-12

ELMHURST, ILL. -- The University of South Dakota (USD) has accepted an invitation to become a member of The Summit League, Commissioner Tom Douple announced today at a press conference on the USD campus in Vermilion, S.D. USD will begin league competition during the 2011-12 academic year and will have full eligibility for all regular season and tournament championships in 2012-13.

"We are extremely pleased to add The University of South Dakota to our league membership," said Douple. "The academic profile of the university and its history of athletic success are both outstanding qualities and will provide an excellent fit with our league."

The Summit League Presidents Council voted unanimously on April 14 to extend an invitation for membership to The University of South Dakota, which formally accepted the invitation at today's press conference. USD's membership will take effect on July 1, 2011.

In its first year (2011-12) in The Summit League, South Dakota will be eligible to compete for championships in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's outdoor track and field, and men's and women's golf. USD will be ineligible to represent the League in NCAA Regional competition during the 2011-12 academic year, its final year of transition to Division I.

USD will be eligible to compete during the 2011-12 regular season in women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, softball, and women's tennis, but will be ineligible to qualify for league championship tournaments.

In 2012-13, South Dakota will be eligible for all regular season and tournament championships when approved by the NCAA for Division I active membership.

"The University of South Dakota and its strong academic and athletic reputation is an excellent addition to The Summit League," said Southern Utah University President Dr. Michael Benson. "It is an institution that continues to make tremendous strides and is a natural fit for our league institutionally, athletically and geographically."

Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota has an enrollment of 9,261 and offers 113 undergraduate programs, 60 graduate programs and 10 doctoral programs. USD is home to South Dakota’s only law and medical schools, college of fine arts and AACSB accredited school of business and is annually recognized by national publications for its academic excellence, affordability and value.

"Today is a great day to be a Coyote.  Athletically and academically The Summit League is a perfect fit for The University of South Dakota," stated USD President James W. Abbott. "The Summit League is one of the premier athletic conferences in the nation and everyone at USD is very pleased our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete against their counterparts in this great league."

Notable USD alumni include Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, and both of South Dakota’s U.S. Senators, Tim Johnson and John Thune.

USD offers seven varsity men’s sports (basketball, cross country, football, golf, swimming and diving, and indoor and outdoor track and field) and 10 women's sports (basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball).  USD's nickname is the Coyotes.

The DakotaDome serves as the cornerstone of the Coyote Athletic Department and is home to five intercollegiate sports, including basketball, football, volleyball, track and field, and swimming and diving. Originally constructed in 1979, the Dome received a new $13 million steel roof in 2001 and additional facility upgrades since.

Over the past 10 years, USD has produced 15 individual National Champions, 290 All-Americans and seven National Players of the Year. In 2007-08, USD's women’s basketball team recorded the nation's best GPA, 3.69, and reached the NCAA Division II championship game. USD alumnus and current assistant track and field coach Derek Miles is a two-time Olympic pole vaulter and placed fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games after winning the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier that summer.

"The University of South Dakota is an outstanding addition to The Summit League," stated Western Illinois University President Dr. Al Goldfarb. "It has a long-standing tradition of athletic and academic achievement and a strong campus-wide financial commitment along with a passionate and loyal base of alumni and boosters."