VERMILLION — In the span of a few hours Wednesday three of South Dakota’s public universities received the go-aheads for significant expansions of their athletic programs from the state Board of Regents.
The regents, who govern the state universities, approved a new minor in sports management that Northern State University plans to offer.
The regents didn’t ask any questions – NSU already has a major in sports marketing and administration, and all of the courses for the minor already are offered — and instead reserved their scrutiny for sweeping plans at two other campuses.
The regents agreed to ask the Legislature for authority to construct more than $86 million of new sports facilities at the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University.
The regents’ support is conditional: Funding must be in place beforehand at the two campuses from their donors and foundations. No student fees or public tax money would be used for the construction.
USD president Jim Abbott wants a 6,000-seat arena for basketball and volleyball and an outdoor complex for track and soccer. Those projects total $48.2 million.
“It will be a first-class facility,” Abbott said about the arena. The next step would be adding a building to connect the arena and the Dakota Dome, which has been the hive for USD athletics for more than 30 years.
The connector, which would cost an additional $10.6 million, isn’t part of the 2013 legislative package. Abbott said it would house various academic and athletic programs including occupational and physical therapy, freeing space elsewhere on campus for the nursing program.
At SDSU officials want to build a $38.3 million indoor practice and human performance center north of the Dykhouse student athlete center.
It would feature an indoor track with spectator seating for 1,000, as well as an indoor football field 80 yards long from goal line to goal line. There also would be space for a variety of rehabilitation, conditioning, training and treatment programs and services.
SDSU has pulled back meanwhile on plans to seek legislative authority in 2013 for a new agricultural-academic building for swine research. Fundraising hasn’t been as strong as earlier expected.