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New rule good for Bison

An NCAA rule interpretation may give Division I proponents at North Dakota State some momentum. The Division II Membership Committee decided that a Division II school that notifies the NCAA of its intent to move to Division I is still eligible fo...

An NCAA rule interpretation may give Division I proponents at North Dakota State some momentum.

The Division II Membership Committee decided that a Division II school that notifies the NCAA of its intent to move to Division I is still eligible for Division II post-season during the first year of the five-year reclassification period.

"It's one less year to deal with," said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. "It's good for the coaches in that they know they can recruit another year for a potential championship."

NDSU was notified of the rule interpretation on Wednesday morning via an e-mail from North Central Conference commissioner Mike Marcil. He is also chairman of the Division II Management Council.

NDSU is in the process of deciding its Division II fate. The school is hoping to make a decision by the end of May.

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The first year of the five-year reclassification period -- called an exploratory year -- is essentially a money-back guarantee. If after the first year a school decides not to pursue Division I, it will be accepted back into Division II with no

questions asked.

"So the Membership Committee felt in the spirit of the exploratory year that there shouldn't be any kind of a penalty," Marcil said.

Current Division II bylaws state once a school declares for Division I, it is immediately ineligible for post-season competition. The Membership Committee's ruling, however, is expected to be accepted into the bylaws at the Division II Management Council meeting in April.

"Very likely," Marcil said.

Since there is currently a moratorium on schools switching divisions, which will expire this spring, there is no precedent for a school being involved in the new "exploratory period."

"We heard both sides of the fence," Taylor said. "You may not be eligible, but, yeah, you should be. We knew that it being an exploratory year that you should be eligible."

NDSU, South Dakota State and Northern Colorado are in the front-row of flirting with Division I. If they decided to move up, the rule interpretation would buy some time for the NCC, which would then be down to six teams.

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"Theoretically, if you didn't have an interpretation like this, it would be hard to have a school that wasn't eligible for NCAA championships to participate in your conference," Marcil said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

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