Jamestown College has optionsFor more than a year now, Jamestown College officials have been trying to determine what the right athletic fit for them is as they determine where they go next. Little has changed over the last year, in terms of concrete decisions, but unlike a year ago when the Dakota Athletic Conference began to unravel, Jamestown College does now appear to have a few viable alternatives.
For more than a year now, Jamestown College officials have been trying to determine what the right athletic fit for them is as they determine where they go next.
Little has changed over the last year, in terms of concrete decisions, but unlike a year ago when the Dakota Athletic Conference began to unravel, Jamestown College does now appear to have a few viable alternatives.
Over the next three days, the Jamestown Sun will update the progress of how things are going, but before that a short refresher course is in order.
Currently, Jamestown College is in its final season in the DAC, but with just four schools — JC, Valley City State, Mayville State an Dickinson State — the league does not have the required number of schools (6) to earn an automatic bid into national tournaments, and thus are essentially NAIA independents.
Coaches and administrators were able to recruit and schedule this year with considerable success, but that figures to get harder in the future.
After the 2011-12 season, the DAC will dissolve, meaning Jamestown College, Valley City State and Mayville State will become full fledged independents. Dickinson State will move into the Montana-based Frontier Conference in all sports in 2012-13.
That’s where things stand now. Where they go next is uncertain, but Jamestown College continues to seek a solution, and unlike a year ago, they appear to have legitimate options.
The preferred destination from the get-go was relocating to the Great Plains Athletic Conference, but GPAC presidents were steadfast in their opposition to expansion, somewhat mystifyingly considering in the last two years they’ve lost two schools — Sioux Falls University (going NCAA Division II) and Dana College (ran out of money and closed the doors) — and adding Jamestown College would have boosted their total back up to 11. However, the distance between Jamestown and the majority of GPAC schools was too great it was deemed by GPAC members, even though JC fit the league’s profile in virtually every other academic and athletic way.
Jamestown College also, for the third time in the last 12 years, examined the merits of NCAA Division II, but that was eliminated as an option quickly.
With the GPAC and D-II out of the equation, the two remaining conference options are opposites in many ways.
The Frontier Conference — where Dickinson State is landing — has indicated a strong desire to lure Jamestown College west, which would also mean continuing in the scholarship-based NAIA. The hurdle, however, is distance.
There are six Montana schools, but none closer than 515 miles. The league also has two teams in Oregon, two in Utah and one in Idaho.
Also, Frontier does not have baseball, softball or wrestling, so those teams would essentially remain independent. However, beginning in 2012-13 the league will have 11 conference members — Jamestown College would be the 12th — further solidifying it as one of the premier conferences in the NAIA.
The other option is going east to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, or UMAC, which is an NCAA-affiliated Division III league, which does not offer scholarships, but geographically may be more palatable.
The UMAC has a similar offering to what Jamestown College currently has, but there are no scholarships, so the appearance could be that JC is taking a step down, although the D-III brand is strong in the Upper Midwest, although the programs most people associate with — Concordia (Moorhead), St. John’s, Augsburg, St. Thomas, Bethel — compete in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, aka MIAC.
A third, and less attractive option, would be remaining an NAIA independent. Nobody in my many discussions prefers this. It stresses schedule-makers and would make it increasingly difficult to lure top-level athletes because ultimately, as one deep-pocketed booster said, “What would we be playing for? The teams-that-can’t-find-a-home title?”
In tomorrow’s edition of The Sun, Jamestown College president Dr. Robert Badal assesses the current lay of the land, while some JC alumni are urging the school to make a decision, sooner rather than later.
On Thursday, the commissioner’s of the GPAC and UMAC discuss their conferences and what the future may hold as it pertains to Jamestown College.
The bottom line for Jimmie supporters is that the school has options, and plans to make a decision either late this year or early in 2012, which by anyone’s estimation is a good thing.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com