Night’s like Tuesday may be goneAfter Tuesday night’s memorable Dakota Athletic Conference women’s championship game at the Bubble in Valley City, an avid Jamestown sports fan said to me, “You know, something like this may never happen again.” I was thinking the exact same thing most of the night.
After Tuesday night’s memorable Dakota Athletic Conference women’s championship game at the Bubble in Valley City, an avid Jamestown sports fan said to me, “You know, something like this may never happen again.”
I was thinking the exact same thing most of the night.
I’ve been going to, playing in and writing about basketball games since I was a zygote, and I don’t ever remember an atmosphere like the one Tuesday night in Valley City. Outside of a couple chants that were more NC-17 than G-rated, the noise generated at W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse would have given the best decibel reader a workout.
But the question now is, now what?
Next year the Jimmies, Vikings, Mayville State and Dickinson State will comprise a 4-team DAC. The following year, JC, VCSU and Mayville are on their own when DSU heads to the Montana-based Frontier Conference.
None of the options — NCAA Division I or II, join the Frontier themselves or become an NAIA independent — are very appealing, at least from a Jamestown College perspective.
The University of Mary, about five-times bigger than Jamestown College, has been competitively irrelevant since jumping to D-II into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Mary is having a nice run in men’s basketball this year, but otherwise, the pickings have been slim.
Division III, is comparable to the NAIA, but would still be perceived as taking a step down. There are no scholarships in D-III, but there are decent conference-affiliation possibilities, but no certainties.
The geographical quandary with joining the Frontier is a massive road block. Making the finances work, in a league with teams spread out all over Montana, and in Idaho, Oregon and Utah, would seem like a significant stretch even if they went to an East-West division format, which has been discussed, but such a plan is far from a sure thing.
Remaining an NAIA independent may be the best of the bunch, but by default. It could buy some time until the hard-headed Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) gets serious about expansion, or if something miraculous transpired where the three remaining DAC institutions could conjure a fifth school from out of thin air and then reel Dakota State (NAIA independent) and Dickinson State back in to form a 6-team conference, thus giving them automatic-qualifying status back into national tournaments — this scenario is the ultimate pipe dream, and virtually certain to never happen.
So for now, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it’s possible to replicate the atmosphere that was created Tuesday night in the Bubble.
Last summer, I was told by someone with direct involvement in all of this — not an athletic director or coach — that finding a new conference home was, “Not high on the list of things that are hard.”
It’s that kind of kicking-the-can-down-the-road mentality that is largely to blame for this mess, and a big reason why experiences like Tuesday night could be gone forever.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com