South Dakota to join Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2012

VERMILLION, S.D. -- President James W. Abbott and Athletic Director David Sayler announced today South Dakota has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Football Conference beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.

“I am excited to accept this offer extended to South Dakota from the Missouri Valley Football Conference,” Abbott said. “Throughout the Division I transition, we have worked to extend USD’s footprint and by joining the MVFC we are continuing that. This move is the most appealing to us because of renewed rivalries, reduction of student-athlete travel time and more cost efficient travel.”

“To join a league as strong as the Missouri Valley Football Conference is a great step forward for South Dakota athletics and the university as a whole,” Sayler said. “The MVFC is an established group with regional ties to some exciting rivalries and that is what college football is built on. As the athletic department embarks on new facility projects, growing the Howling Pack and increasing university enrollment, this move strengthens our position at the FCS level.”

South Dakota accepted a formal invitation from Conference Commissioner Patty Viverito at a press conference on campus Thursday afternoon. The move to the MVFC reignites Coyote rivalries with South Dakota State, North Dakota State and Northern Iowa who are currently members of the nine-school conference and were previously members of Division II’s North Central Conference. With five other institutions within 700 miles of Vermillion, the MVFC will give Coyote fans, boosters and alumni several chances to travel to road games.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference formed in 1985 as the Gateway Football Conference until rebranding in June 2008. One of the most stable NCAA Football Championship Subdivision conferences, the MVFC has five charter institutions and only 11 members in its history. The league claimed FCS titles in 1997 and 2002 and has had a member ranked No. 1 in the nation in seven of the past eight seasons. Six schools were ranked in the top 25 in the same week in 2008 and as many as five this season. South Dakota is the first school to join since NDSU and SDSU in 2008.

The move also cements South Dakota’s position in The Summit League. The Coyotes were granted admission into The Summit League in April of 2009, and will become a full-fledged member of the conference on July 1, 2011. NDSU, SDSU and Western Illinois currently compete in both the MVFC and The Summit League.

South Dakota is in its third year of transition to Division I status and currently competes in the Great West Conference for most of its sports. The Coyotes are eligible for NCAA postseason competition in outdoor track and field this spring, and all sports will be eligible in 2012-13 to coincide with the school’s entrance into the MVFC and The Summit League.