GPAC announces schedule changes
Two weeks after the closing of Dana College in Blair, Neb., the Great Plains Athletic Conference has announced schedule changes for the 2010-11 academic year for football, volleyball and basketball.
Like every school in the GPAC, Dakota Wesleyan University saw some necessary changes to its schedules. But because of the atypical circumstances, DWU athletic director Curt Hart was pleased that the school was notified of the changes in a timely manner.
"(GPAC Commissioner) Corey Westra did a remarkable job putting all the schedules together in a short amount of time," Hart said. "He checked with every coach and had feedback from every athletic director to help him make the right decisions.
"It was impossible to keep everybody happy, but he did about as good a job as he could."
With the loss of Dana College, which closed its doors on June 30, the GPAC is now a 12-team conference -- 11 for football because Mount Marty College doesn't have a team -- for the upcoming academic year.
"With the loss of Dana College, the league needed to look at these three sports immediately and adjustments were made to gain back the lost games because of the unbalanced conference schedule these sports play," Westra said in a press release. "We needed to use the membership numbers we have in place to fill the open spots on the schedule at this late date instead of our schools scrambling for extra dates. We also wanted our conference schedule games to be even for all the teams in the league."
In football, the GPAC will remain at 10 games this fall. The schedule will now be a true round-robin format with all 11 football-playing schools facing one another. The league's schedule dates did not change as the 2010 season still will open Saturday, Sept. 4, and continue 11 weeks until Saturday, Nov. 13. All homecoming and alumni home dates that were set by each member school were protected in the new 2010 schedule adjustments.
Notable changes on the Tigers' football schedule include: The Sept. 4 season opener previously scheduled at home against Midland Lutheran will now be played at Dordt College; home opener will now be against Concordia on Sept. 11; Sept. 18 will now be DWU's bye week, instead of the previously scheduled Oct. 9; the university's homecoming game scheduled for Oct. 2 will now be against Midland Lutheran, instead of Morningside; the Tigers will travel to Sioux Falls to face USF on Oct. 23, instead of hosting the Cougars as was previously scheduled.
"We were a part of the process from beginning to end," DWU football coach Brad Pole said of the schedule changes. "The conference started surveying all the coaches right at the beginning to get a feel for everyone's concerns and wishes and eventually it came down to a compromise."
Pole said the key in the process was for the conference to keep each school's homecoming date the same, which Westra and company were able to do.
"The schedule may not have been able to work out home-and-away as much as possible," Pole said. "But they worked through the bugs and came up with as close to a sure-thing solution as they could.
"Our conference commissioner is a hard-working guy; he got to it in a hurry and got things done, kudos to him."
In men's and women's basketball and volleyball, the conference has been split into two six-team divisions. For scheduling purposes, teams in each division will face each other twice and will play teams in the other division once. Two additional games against the other division also will be added to total 18 conference dates.
One group of standings will be kept in the conference and seeding for the conference tournament will be determined from those standings. The GPAC regular-season champion will gain an automatic berth to the NAIA national championship.
Volleyball has been adjusted in order to keep the 16 matches that were in place for 2010. Like basketball, the league was split six and six with one half of the league playing double round robin and single round robin with other half and vice versa. Only the conference tournament champion will receive an automatic berth to the NAIA national championship.
"The only problem with a lot of the sports is that we possibly will be losing one of the postseason bids," Hart said. "That's an issue that we have to deal with. The GPAC is a pretty strong league in the NAIA, but it makes it a little more difficult."
Schedules for soccer and softball will have the Dana doubleheader removed for the upcoming year. Baseball will look at its 2011 schedule and changes to the weekend doubleheader format may be made to even the schedule. For future schedule announcements, visit the GPAC website at www.gpacsports.com.
Dakota Wesleyan University Football Schedule Changes
Sept. 4: at Dordt
Sept. 11: Home vs. Concordia
Sept. 18: Open
Sept. 25: at Doane
Oct. 2: Home vs. Midland Lutheran (homecoming)
Oct. 9: at Nebraska Wesleyan
Oct. 16: Home vs. Hastings
Oct. 23: at USF
Oct. 30: at Northwestern
Nov. 6: Home vs. Briar Cliff
Nov. 13: Home vs. Morningside
Sept. 4: Home vs. Midland Lutheran
Sept. 11: at Hastings
Sept. 18: Home vs. Nebraska Wesleyan
Sept. 25: at Briar Cliff
Oct. 2: Home vs. Morningside (homecoming)
Oct. 9: Open
Oct. 16: at Dordt
Oct. 23: Home vs. USF
Oct. 30: at Northwestern
Nov. 6: Home vs. Dana
Nov. 13: at Concordia
Here is the breakdown of the current NAIA National Championship bids for the GPAC in 2010-11 (Nebraska Wesleyan competes in the NCAA Division III postseason):
Football - One automatic bid (no change) - Team must be in top 20 in final NAIA poll (conference must have six schools to receive the football automatic berth if in top 20)
Volleyball - One automatic bid (loss of one bid) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Men's Soccer - One automatic bid (loss of one bid) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Women's Soccer - One automatic bid (loss of one bid) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Men's Cross Country - One automatic bid (loss of one bid) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Women's Cross Country - One automatic bid (loss of one bid) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Men's Basketball (DII) - Two automatic bids (no change) - Two bids awarded for every 10 NAIA teams.
Women's Basketball (DII) - Two automatic bids (no change) - Two bids awarded for every 10 NAIA teams.
Baseball - Two automatic bids (no change) - Two bids awarded for every 10 NAIA teams.
Softball - Two automatic bids (no change) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Women's Golf - Two automatic bids (no change) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Men's Golf - One automatic bid (loss of one bid) - Two bids awarded for every 12 NAIA teams.
Men's Tennis - One automatic bid (no change) - One bid for every 6 NAIA teams.
Women's Tennis - One automatic bid (no change) - One bid for every 6 NAIA teams.
Wrestling, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field - No change in qualifying (individual qualifying).