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Schools request door in

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference has taken its first step toward expansion. NSIC commissioner Butch Raymond said Wednesday that he has received formal written requests for admittance into the conference from St. Cloud State, Minnesota ...

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference has taken its first step toward expansion.

NSIC commissioner Butch Raymond said Wednesday that he has received formal written requests for admittance into the conference from St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato, Minnesota-Duluth and Augustana.

"Obviously they are all very sound institutions," Raymond said. "I think it would be (positive) in terms of the visibility of the league with the media outlets that they all have, and the traditions are certainly very strong."

St. Cloud, Duluth, Augustana and Mankato - all in the North Central Conference - have each completed a five-page study for the NSIC detailing their athletics programs.

Raymond said the next step is a visit by the Northern Sun to each of the institutions.

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The league will discuss its possible expansion during next month's NCAA convention in Orlando, Fla., Raymond said.

At the latest, Raymond said the league would vote on the addition of new members during its next scheduled meeting in April.

However, Raymond said he hopes to speed up the process with an earlier special board meeting.

Schools need seven votes to be admitted into the league. The institutions would enter the NSIC in 2008-09.

If all four are admitted, which would increase the Northern Sun's membership to 14, the league would likely split into two divisions, Raymond said.

Raymond said the conference will not increase its football scholarship maximum of 24, which would force the four league hopefuls to make significant cuts.

Minnesota-Duluth, Augustana and St. Cloud each allow around 30 football scholarships. Mankato is fully funded with 36.

The addition of the four schools could also lead to more sanctioned sports, Raymond said. Men's tennis and women's swimming and diving could be among the additions.

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"(Expansion) has been kicked around a lot," Raymond said. "The rumor has been flying around for more than a year. There are some schools that think it's a wonderful thing for the conference, some that are maybe on the fence and some that think there are pros and cons and are not really sure."

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562

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