In Briefs: One of Newest D-1 Schools, North Dakota, Finds Permanent Home for Swim Teams

In a day where more-and-more college swimming programs are being cut, the University of North Dakota has found themselves a permanent home in the NCAA Division-1. Since beginning their transition to the NCAA’s top division in 2008, their swim teams have floated in limbo as an “invitee” to Conference USA.

The former-Fighting Sioux have found themselves a permanent home at last, with the women’s program headed to the WAC, and the men joining the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which has been a soft-landing for many orphaned men’s swim programs.

With the addition of the North Dakota women, the WAC will return to its 8-team total that it was last year, before the entire Boise State Athletic Department left to join the Mountain West Conference. The conference’s top returning programs will include Hawaii, the defending conference champs, New Mexico State, and Nevada.

The WAC doesn’t sponsor a men’s championship, so their fate was still uncertain when the women’s move was announced last month. Luckily, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation stepped in again to pick up the program. Just like they did for several women’s teams after the Big West folded last season, the MPSF has added the North Dakota men to their men’s swimming lineup. This brings the number of men’s teams in the MPSF to four (Seattle, University of the Pacific, and Cal State-Bakersfield), with more surely to come in a conference that has a reputation for success, including multiple NCAA National Championship teams from major programs like Oregon that were orphaned from their larger conferences.

North Dakota should be commended for not simply taking the “easy way out” in the move to Division 1, which is to lop off programs. Instead, North Dakota has added programs, with Men’s Tennis and Men’s Equestrian programs slated to begin competition in 2012.

The majority of North Dakota’s programs will join the Big Sky Conference, which does not sponsor swimming.  They are currently in the midst of a big controversy where the NCAA is planning to enforce sanctions against the University because of their Fighting Sioux logo and nickname, that are in violation of NCAA rules. The University is currently debating the constitutionality of the law, amongst other issues.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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