The University of Minnesota Duluth today officially accepted an invitation to become a member of the North Central Conference. The Bulldogs will begin competitive play in the NCC beginning with the 2004-05 season The measure to offer membership to UMD was approved this past Sunday (Oct. 13) in a vote of NCC presidents.
The Bulldogs, Augustana College (SD), Minnesota State University-Mankato, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the University of North Dakota, St. Cloud State University, the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University will comprise an eight-team NCC in 2004-05. UMD is the first institution the NCC has admitted for membership since St. Cloud State joined the conference on June 25, 1981.
"Joining the NCC is a great opportunity for UMD to align with schools which share our own high standards of academics and athletics," said UMD Chancellor Dr. Kathryn Martin. "The NCC represents the most successful Division II schools in the country, and this is truly an appropriate fit for UMD."
UMD has been a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference since 1976-77 and was associated with the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1950-51 to 1975-76. Bulldog athletics, which is celebrating its 72nd year in 2002-03, also competed in the NSIC from 1932-1943 and from 1945-49 (athletics was suspended in 1943 44 because of World War II). UMD played as an independent in its first two years of existence (1930-32) as well as during the 1944-45 and 1949-50 seasons.
Founded in 1921, the NCC currently awards championships in 20 sports (10 men and 10 women) including baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track, men's and women's tennis, volleyball and wrestling. Since it joined the NCAA ranks 53 years ago, the NCC has produced 42 NCAA Division II team champions and over 250 individual national titleholders.
"We are excited and honored to have this opportunity to join with the North Central Conference and its 80-year tradition of academic and athletic excellence" said UMD Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bob Corran. "The NCC is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious and successful NCAA II conferences in the country and we are thrilled to now be a part of it. While we have enjoyed our long relationship with the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, we feel our institutional and athletic profiles are more consistent with those of NCC schools. During the coming transition period, we look forward with enthusiasm in fulfilling our NSIC responsibilities while preparing for the competitive challenges of the NCC."
UMD, which has captured the past 10 NSIC All-Sports titles, sponsors 12 NCAA II sports -- baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, football, softball, women's tennis, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball--along with both a NCAA I men's and women's hockey program.