Well, it’s certainly nice to see that the predicted non-action at the State Board of Higher Education came about after all. The City Beat always feel terrifically stupid when someone I interview predicts something and the opposite happens. It’s like running a headline warning of a winter storm and then you get a heat wave.
There was a whole lot more info about the Summit League situation yesterday, and the news is not that it’s too late in the school year for UND to apply for membership in the league. It’s just almost too late, according to Athletic Director Brian Faison.
Here’s some excerpts from my audio file:
Board member Grant Shaft: Here’s a question about timeline. A lot of this board’s actions, of course, in 2009, in setting timeline in getting near some resolution that would be satisfactory to the Summit League to make an application in calendar year 2009. Obviously, now we’ve bumped into 2010. There are a couple of dates that loom out there, one of them is the Aug. 1 date that has been used by this board as a possible transition date, the final date for the resolution. One is the [unclear] that’s been discussed. And, of course, letting the timeline run with the settlement agreement, November of 2010.
As we sit here today, in your view, how should this board view its timeline as far as Summit League application?
Brian: In conversations with, — I’m sorry — Chancellor, members of the board: In conversations with the conference commissioner of the Summit League, Tom Douple, yesterday just to follow up and make sure I was understanding where he was coming from. Tom has been consistently close to the vest with his comments, as I’m sure you’ve all understand when you visit with him.
In terms of process, scheduling is really the driver in terms of time, from their perspective. They are now working on the ’11-’12 schedule so we’re already looking at a year plus a year no matter what would happen in terms of where this would go.
The longer this goes on without resolution — and I want to stress resolution; they have not indicated a position either way with respect to the logo; they just talked about resolution — we’re at a point now where 2011-’12 is the schedule we’re dealing with. And that’s important to the league because they all commit to not to allow those schools to then go out and schedule non-conference opponents.
So what’ll happen is you’ll be locked out for another year in terms of our ability to come in.
There’s no guarantee that we would be accepted for membership, but my sense is they would’ve liked to be on a parallel track with us and [the University of] South Dakota. It would make perfect sense to do that. Since that action with South Dakota, Centenary [College of Louisiana], which is a member of that league, has elected to leave the conference and drop to Division III. So they’ve gone from an odd number to an even number, which, of course, is a little bit of a concern, too.
As any conference would do — and as Mr. Douple certainly does; he’s a good steward of his program — they’re constantly looking for things that will strengthen their league. So from a membership standpoint, they’re always going to be open to membership consideration. But when you get down to timelines, the schedule becomes the critical issue in terms of how they look at what they can do.
My understanding is the next meeting of the presidents’ council is in March and, after that, I believe, it’ll be in June. That’s the body that ultimately makes the decision on membership for the league.
Grant: And if I may follow up, Mr. President. It’s been a little while since we were in Chicago [Summit League HQ], but if I recall our discussions, once that presidents’ council meets within the Summit League, there is then a process that unfolds as to considering an application of an insitution. It’s the acceptance of the institution application; it’s the consideration of the presidents’ council; it’s a scheduled visit to an insitution; and there’s a timeline that goes along with that. I think Mr. Douple was hesitant to give us an average, but it was a bit of a process.
Just so I understand it, if there was a resolution to this thing in spring of this year, there’s some possibility, but that action could be accomplished within 2010, which will allow us to remain in the scheduling just one more [inaudible].
Brian: I doubt that, but it is possible. I can’t speak for Mr. Douple; that’s what the presidents elect him to do.
Grant: What I’m really getting at is if we were to resolve this later and the application process moved into 2011, does that then bump us again in scheduling?
Brian: No, at that point we’re looking at ’12-’13 anyway. From that perspective it wouldn’t change anything in particular.
UND President Robert Kelley: In my conversations with many, but not all, the presidents of Summit League presidents’ council, I believe we are in the best position we can possibly be at the present time, pending resolution of this controversy. All the things Mr. Faison said are absolutely true and I do believe that we would be welcomed in the Summit League based upon the conversations I’ve had with many of the members.
Board member Duaine Espegard: Mr. Chairman, uh, Mr. President: I understand then there isn’t a necessity to do something now as opposed to, say, August as opposed to November for scheduling purposes.
Brian: Mr. President: My understanding from Mr. Douple is there is no specific commitment on their part one way or the other. All I can tell you is, from a scheduling perspective — and I think this would drive — June becomes the critical point in terms of the two-year issue with respect to our ability to compete in the conference.
The other thing — and again this is something that he would not share; and I appreciate the compliments — there are institutions that are seeking membership in the Summit League. And they’re not going to be adding three or four teams to the Summit League. We don’t know what competition there is; they wouldn’t share that with us. So there maybe other issues that is driving the necessity, from our perspective, to get a resolution, to get a resolution as expeditiously as we can. June looms as the finality on scheduling issues and they’re currently finalizing that as we speak. If that becomes [garbled] then it’s two years.
Duaine: Mr. Chairman, I understand that even if it was delayed for six to eight months, which puts it off to the automatic shutoff anyway, that it still doesn’t change the scheduling for the coming season.
Board President Richie Smith: No, that’s not my understanding.
… [Some garbled stuff because Dr. Kelley was away from the microphone. He's asked to go back to the mike and repeat himself.]
Dr. Kelley: Mr. Chairman: I’ll ask Mr. Faison to correct me, but I my understanding is that we are currently having the open door extended to us. But the door is rapidly closing.
Some decisions have already been made. In our conversations with commissioner Mr. Douple, in our conversations with the presidents of the presidents’ council, there is a receptiveness.
Clearly scheduling is ongoing. We’re already looking at another year out. We may — I think the emphasis here is ‘may’ — if we can react to this situation in [garbled], we could start the ball rolling, which could position us in the scheduling session for the coming ’11-’12 competition. I think if we do not, if we delay into the summer then clearly we’re going to be delayed beyond ’11-’12. We’ll probably be in ’12-13 or beyond. So my understanding is the door is still barely opened, but it is closing. I think I’m fair on that, and I can certainly be corrected by Mr. Faison.
Smith: I have a question if no one else does: What does a 30-day delay do to that window? Does it close in 30 days or is it still open?
Dr. Kelley: Well, I hate to ask Mr. Faison to hobble back up to the table, but I think he might be amenable to helping me with that.
[Long pause as Brian shuffles up.]
Brian: Mr. President, you are correct. [Pregnant pause. Laughter.] There is a brief window, a very brief window. I can’t speak specifically to what 30 days would do, but 30 days in my best estimate, or thought would be, is that it would actually be right on the line in terms of any ability to be considered for ’11-’12.
And quite frankly, my understanding is after that it would clearly push it back two years down the road.
So the timeline looks like this right now:
- Jan. 15: The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state board filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. As part of the process, they asked the district court where they lost the case to send transcripts to the Supreme Court.
- Jan. 21: The SBHE decides not to do anything with the nickname out of respect for the appeal process.
It does, however, seek an expedited decision from the court. The SBHE’s general counsel Pat Seaworth said the Supreme Court needs the transcripts to get started and it takes about 45 days to get those transcripts out. That means, if you’re gonna be technical about it, March 2. Pat said he’ll ask the SBHE’s attorney to seek to expedite the transcripts.
The question is, how soon will that get the transcripts to the court and then how long will it take the court to decide? Even if the court were to accept the district court’s ruling and not bother hearing the case — it seems many people are assuming this, given the timeline they’re talking about — making that decision would still take a bit of time.
Finally, the SBHE essentially agreed to take some "action" at its next monthly meeting. It didn’t formally vote to do that, but the tone of the board members suggest they’re probably going to retire the nickname whether the court rules on it or not.
- Feb. 18: The SBHE holds its monthly meeting at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake.
- Feb. 21: The theoretical cut-off point for applying in time to get into the 2011-2012 schedule. Why Feb. 21? I’m just adding a month to the Jan. 21 meeting.
- March 2: The theoretical date the court will get the transcripts without the expedited process.
- March ??: The Summit League’s presidents’ council meets. This would be the first opportunity for it to discuss UND’s application, if UND is able to do that in time. NDSU President Dick Hanson said he’ll be a good ambassador for UND.
I asked him yesterday if he’d be willing to ask the league to accelerate the membership process for UND, given the lack of clarity about how long that might take. He said he doesn’t know how much of a voice he has as a new member, but he’d try.
- June ??: The presidents’ council meets again.
- June 15: The theoretical earliest date the Supreme Court would make a decision without an expedited process. This is based on Pat Seaworth’s six to eight month estimate.
- Aug. 1: The SBHE’s deadline for UND to begin the transition to a new nickname if it can’t win tribal approval, based on an earlier timeline.
- Aug. 15: The theoretical latest date the Supreme Court would make a decision, again, based on Pat’s estimate.
- Sept. 15: The theoretical latest date, based on the plaintiffs’ attorney Pat Morley‘s estimate.
- Nov. 30: The deadline for UND to begin the transition to a new nickname, based on the timeline laid out in the settlement between the state and the NCAA.