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USD stiff arms Big Sky, will join SDSU in MVFC

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) -- The University of South Dakota is joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference effective with the 2012 season, a move that came quickly and renews a sports rivalry with South Dakota State.

The schools have gone their separate ways in athletics since SDSU moved from NCAA Division II to Division I. South Dakota is in the third year of a four-year move to Division I.

USD President James Abbott noted that separation Thursday in accepting the Missouri Valley offer.

"In the last couple of years ... I've missed some of the traditional rivalries we have come to know," he said.

There have been some "wonderful contests," he said, "but I've long held that traditional rivalries are important."

USD and SDSU were already scheduled to begin playing each other in sports other than football beginning in fall 2011, when USD joins the Summit League, where SDSU is a member.

The Summit League doesn't offer football. SDSU is in the Missouri Valley for football while South Dakota has been part of the Great West Football Conference, which is disbanding after next season.

The Big Sky Conference, which added North Dakota and Southern Utah just this week, had been courting South Dakota for all sports.