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. "Through the Division I transition, we have worked to extend our 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 very exciting for South Dakota," Sayler said. "The MVFC is an established group with regional ties to some great rivalries and that is what college football is built on. As we embark on new facility projects, growing the Howling Pack and increasing university enrollment, this move strengthens our position at the FCS level."
USD received a formal invitation from Conference Commissioner Patty Viverito on Wednesday and accepted today. South Dakota's 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 USD fans, boosters and alumni several chances to travel to road games.
"With South Dakota becoming the 10th Missouri Valley Football Conference member we have stabilized and strengthened FCS football in the Midwest and we have most certainly strengthened our conference," Viverito said. "This is a course of action that makes total sense for our conference, our member institutions, our fans and most importantly our student-athletes. And not just for today, but for decades to come. With this move we will reestablish long-standing rivalries in the Dakotas and open the way for equally satisfying new rivalries throughout the league."
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 USD's position in The Summit League. USD was 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. USD is 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.
Since leaving the North Central Conference and Division II after the 2007-08 season, South Dakota has been a member of the Great West the past three seasons, with men's golf competing in the America Sky Conference and the men's and women's swimming and diving competing in The Summit League.
The Coyotes have claimed success at all levels of competition since the school was founded in 1862. USD athletics has won a combined 23 team and individual NCAA championships with over 770 Coyotes earning All-America honors. In the classroom, 46 USD student-athletes have become Academic All-Americans and 27 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. South Dakota teams have won 85 conference titles, including four last season in the Great West. Those achievements continued on the professional level, as 41 Coyotes have made it to the National Football League and two to the Olympics.
South Dakota Athletics in 2009-10:
GWC men's basketball regular season and tournament champions
CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament appearance in men's basketball
GWC men's indoor track and field champions
GWC women's indoor track and field champions
GWC Men's Basketball Coach of the Year (Dave Boots)
GWC Men's Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (Dave Gottsleben)
GWC Women's Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (Lucky Huber)
GWC Women's Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year (Ramsey Fitzsimmons)
GWC Men's Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year (Rob Gregoire)
GWC Men's Basketball Player of the Year (Tyler Cain)
GWC Men's Basketball Defensive Player of the Year (Tyler Cain)
GWC Men's Basketball Sixth Man of the Year (Louie Krogman)
GWC Softball Pitcher of the Year (Mel Johnson)
GWC Outdoor Track and Field Female Newcomer of the Year (Kate Wellensiek)
142 all-conference honors across all sports (78 women/64 men)
38 GWC Players of the Week
Four GWC Student-Athletes of the Month
Missouri Valley Football Conference Members:
North Dakota State
South Dakota (2012)
South Dakota State