NDSU, others discuss conference

FARGO, N.D. -- Representatives from North Dakota State
University and eight other NCAA Division I independent schools have
met to discuss possible conference affiliation.

NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said the meeting in
Indianapolis on Tuesday was "informational" and no decisions came
from it. He said NDSU, in its second year of a five-year Division I
transition, is looking at its options and a possible grouping of
independents may be one of them.

"We're just talking the what-ifs," Taylor said. "Who's
interested? Is there other interest?"

NDSU, South Dakota State, Longwood University (Va.) and Utah
Valley State are Division I transition schools looking for a
league. Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi,
Texas-Pan American and Savannah State (Ga.) are independent
Division I members.

NDSU and SDSU are members of the Great West Football Conference.
Longwood, Utah Valley, Fort Wayne, Corpus Christi and the
University of Texas-Pan American do not field football teams.
Savannah State (Ga.) is a Division I-AA football independent.

"It's a diverse group," Taylor said.

The group had a member of the NCAA, which is based in
Indianapolis, present to talk about regulations for forming a new

For starters, a newly formed conference must wait seven
additional years before it may be awarded an automatic bid to the
NCAA men s and women s basketball tournaments.

Several independents have discussed forming a scheduling
alliance to help ease the year-to-year pressure of finding games.

NDSU and SDSU made an unsuccessful bid for the Big Sky
Conference last fall. It was the second time in two years the
league did not give both schools a favorable response.