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Collection Summary

Title Athletics
Span Dates 1890-2004
Bulk Dates 1920-1979
Quantity 10 linear ft.
Printed Material Printed Materials are filed within their respective sports.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.

In 1862 the Dakota Territory Legislature authorized the establishment of the University of South Dakota as the first university in the Dakota Territory.  However, it was not until 1882, with the added support of Clay County, that the first classes were held in the Clay County Courthouse and construction began on University Hall (now Old Main).  The building was completed in 1883 and housed the entire University.  Ephraim Epstein served as the first president of the University and the first public board to govern the University was appointed in 1883.

Since the University’s inception, athletics has been and vital part of student life.  During the early years, sports were informal and organized by students or volunteers.  In 1887, athletic participation was formalized when the University joined the newly-formed South Dakota Athletic Association along with South Dakota State University, Yankton College, and Sioux Falls College.  The North Central Conference was established in 1921, and the University remained a member until 2008, when it moved into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I and played its first football game in the Great West Conference.  In July 2011, the University will become a member of the Summit League and be eligible to compete in the following sports: men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and women’s tennis.

In 1886, baseball was established as the first organized sport.  Baseball, football, and track became varsity sports in 1889.  In 1903, football was almost banned from the state due to serious injuries and deaths.  However, its popularity and the introduction of more regulations prevented its ban.  Basketball was added as a varsity sport in 1907.  After 2004, baseball became a club sport and was no longer a part of the Athletic Department.

Sporting events were held in the Old Armory (currently the Belbas Center), the New Armory (currently the Al Neuharth Media Center), and Inman Field (no longer standing).  From 1976 to 1979, the multi-purpose stadium known as the DakotaDome was constructed.  

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