The Summit League, or The Summit, is an NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic conference with its membership mostly located in the Midwestern United States from Illinois on the East of the Mississippi River to the Dakotas and Nebraska on the West, with additional members in the Western state of Colorado and the Southern state of Oklahoma. Founded as the Association of Mid-Continent Universities in 1982, it rebranded as the Mid-Continent Conference in 1989, then again as the Summit League on June 1, 2007. The league headquarters are in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
|Established||June 18, 1982|
|Members||9 full (4 associates)|
(10 full members, 5 associates in 2021)
|Former names||Association of Mid-Continent Universities (1982–1989)|
Mid-Continent Conference (1989–2007)
|Headquarters||Sioux Falls, South Dakota|
|Commissioner||Tom Douple (since 2005)|
The membership currently consists of nine full members plus four associate members. The University of Missouri–Kansas City returned as a full member after a seven-year absence with the new athletic identity of the Kansas City Roos in 2020, while Purdue University Fort Wayne left for the Horizon League. A total of 31 schools have been full members, but the only charter member remaining in the league today is Western Illinois University.
Current full membersEdit
|University of Denver||Denver, Colorado||1864||Private||11,952||$711,345,798||2013||Pioneers|
|University of Missouri–Kansas City[a]||Kansas City, Missouri||1933||Public||16,944||$1.2 billion (systemwide)||1994
|University of Nebraska Omaha||Omaha, Nebraska||1908||Public||15,431||$72,000,000||2012||Mavericks|
|University of North Dakota||Grand Forks, North Dakota||1883||Public||13,847||$230,600,000||2018||Fighting Hawks|
|North Dakota State University||Fargo, North Dakota||1890||Public||14,358||$201,600,000||2007||Bison|
|Oral Roberts University||Tulsa, Oklahoma||1963||Private||4,053||$40,490,533||1997 [c]
|University of South Dakota||Vermillion, South Dakota||1862||Public||10,151||$213,560,000||2011||Coyotes|
|South Dakota State University||Brookings, South Dakota||1881||Public||12,613||$135,700,000||2007||Jackrabbits|
|Western Illinois University||Macomb, Illinois||1899||Public||7,624||$32,134,249||1982 [d]||Leathernecks|
- Since July 1, 2019, UMKC has branded its athletic program, previously the UMKC Kangaroos, as the Kansas City Roos.
- Kansas City, a previous member of the conference from 1994–95 to 2012–13 under its former athletic identity of the UMKC Kangaroos, rejoined in 2020.
- Oral Roberts, a previous member of the conference from 1997–98 to 2011–12, rejoined in 2014.
- The Mid-Con did not sponsor women's sports until 1992–93. Before that time, Western Illinois had been a member of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference, which began as a women's-only conference and added football in 1985; WIU was a member of both sides of the conference. When the Gateway merged its women's side into the Missouri Valley Conference, WIU moved its women's sports into the Mid-Con, but has kept its football team in the Gateway (now known as the Missouri Valley Football Conference) to this day.
Current associate membersEdit
|Drake University||Des Moines, Iowa||1881||Private||5,270||2017–18||Bulldogs||MVC||Men's tennis|
|Eastern Illinois University||Charleston, Illinois||1895||Public||8,626||2005–06sw.dv.
|Panthers||OVC||Swimming and Diving,|
|Illinois State University||Normal, Illinois||1857||Public||20,706||2017–18||Redbirds||MVC||Men's tennis|
|Valparaiso University||Valparaiso, Indiana||1859||Private||4,500||2017–18||Crusaders||MVC||Men's swimming[a]|
- Valparaiso does not include diving in its intercollegiate aquatics program for either men or women.
Future full membersEdit
|University of St. Thomas||Saint Paul, Minnesota||1885||Private||9,878||$519 million||2021||Tommies||[a]|
- On July 15, 2020, St. Thomas received approval from the NCAA to move directly from Division III to Division I.
Future associate membersEdit
|University of Northern Colorado||Greeley, Colorado||1889||Public||12,862||2021||Bears||Big Sky||Baseball|
Former full membersEdit
The Summit League has 22 former members.
- This school joined the then-Mid-Continent Conference before the league began sponsoring women's sports in 1992–93. It had previously been a member of the women's sports-only North Star Conference, which was absorbed by the Mid-Con in 1992.
- Before the Mid-Con began sponsoring women's sports in 1992–93, Eastern Illinois had been a member of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference, which began as a women's-only conference and added football in 1985; EIU was a member of both sides of the conference. When the Gateway merged its women's side into the Missouri Valley Conference, EIU moved its women's sports into the Mid-Con, but kept its football team in the Gateway until it moved its entire athletic program into the Ohio Valley Conference in 1996.
- Purdue Fort Wayne (PFW) did not begin operation until 2018, but inherited its athletic program from Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), founded in 1964. IPFW dissolved in 2018, and the Purdue University and Indiana University systems each established a new Fort Wayne campus.
- Known since 2005 as Missouri State University.
- Known since 2005 as Troy University.
Former associate membersEdit
- Howard currently plays men's soccer in the Sun Belt Conference, and will move that sport to the Northeast Conference in July 2021.
- After the 2018–19 school year, Long Island University merged the LIU Post athletic program with the program of its other principal campus, LIU Brooklyn, creating a new Division I program that now competes as the LIU Sharks. The unified athletic program, which maintains Brooklyn's memberships in Division I and the Northeast Conference, now fields a single baseball team that plays on the Post campus in Brookville.
- NYIT remained in Division I baseball through the 2017 season (2016–17 school year), after which it downgraded baseball to Division II and added that sport to its existing ECC membership.
- Between Oral Roberts' 2012 departure for the Southland Conference and 2014 return to the Summit League, it maintained Summit associate membership in men's soccer.
- SIU Edwardsville currently plays men's soccer in the Mid-American Conference, but will return that sport to the Missouri Valley Conference in 2021.
- Valparaiso dropped men's tennis after the 2019–20 season. It remains an associate in men's swimming.
The association was created on June 18, 1982 at the O'Hare Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois as the Association of Mid-Continent Universities (or AMCU or AMCU-8, pronounced Am-cue) that it was known as until 1989.[dead link] The conference sponsored football from 1982 until 1984 at the Division I-AA level (now Division I FCS); and current members North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, and Western Illinois have FCS football programs.
Changes and the addition of women's sportsEdit
The conference saw its first changes in the early 1990s. Southwest Missouri State departed for membership in the Missouri Valley Conference as the University of Akron and Northern Illinois University joined in 1990. Then Wright State University joined in 1991 as Northern Iowa followed Southwest Missouri State to the MVC.
Major changes came to the conference in 1992. First, Akron left for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and another Ohio school, Youngstown State University, replaced it. More significantly, the Mid-Continent added women's sports by absorbing the North Star Conference (NSC), a women's-only league whose final seven members were in the Mid-Continent. All of the final NSC members except for Akron moved their women's sports into the Mid-Continent. At the same time, Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois moved their women's sports into the Mid-Continent when their former women's sports home, the Gateway Conference, merged into the Missouri Valley Conference. The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee joined the Mid-Continent a year later.
Horizon and ECC transitionsEdit
In 1994, charter members Cleveland State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, as well as newer members Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Northern Illinois, and Wright State left the conference to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, now known as the Horizon League.
The Mid-Continent absorbed Central Connecticut State University, Chicago State University, the University at Buffalo, Troy State University (now Troy University), and Northeastern Illinois University from the collapsed East Coast Conference in response. None of these institutions remain in the league.
Missouri-Kansas City, formerly an independent, also joined the Mid-Continent Conference in 1994.
Eastern Illinois moved to the Ohio Valley Conference in 1996, reducing membership to nine programs. Troy State departed for the Trans America Athletic Conference while Central Connecticut joined the Northeast Conference in 1997. Buffalo joined the MAC in 1998 while Northeastern Illinois ceased intercollegiate athletics at that time. Oral Roberts University and Southern Utah University replaced the former pair while Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Oakland University moved into the latter duo's spots a year later.
Youngstown State switched to the Horizon League in 2001, and Centenary College replaced it in 2003. Chicago State University announced in the spring of 2006 that it would withdraw from the conference to compete as an independent starting in the 2006-07 school year. Charter member Valparaiso University then moved to the Horizon in 2007.
Renewed expansion and contractionEdit
Conference expansion was discussed at length at the Mid-Continent Conference annual Presidents Council meeting in 2006, and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW, now Purdue Fort Wayne), North Dakota State, and South Dakota State were approved for site visits. On August 30, 2006, IPFW accepted an invitation to join the Mid-Continent Conference as a full member starting July 1, 2007. Both North Dakota State and South Dakota State also accepted invitations to join the conference the next day.
The Summit League continued its renewed expansion push with the admission of the University of South Dakota. The Coyotes began conference play in the 2011–12 academic year and become eligible for all championships the following season. Centenary College subsequently announced that it would leave the Summit League following the 2010–2011 campaign.
The University of North Dakota had also been openly rumored to have been courted by the Summit League, but controversy over the Fighting Sioux nickname in all likelihood prevented UND's admission at that time. Expectations that UND would join the Summit League came to an end on November 1, 2010, when North Dakota instead accepted an invitation to join the Big Sky Conference. The University of South Dakota entered into very brief negotiations to join the Big Sky as well, rather than continuing their plans to join the Summit. However, South Dakota chose instead to remain with the more compact Summit League (along with other Dakota schools, NDSU and SDSU). As the University of Nebraska Omaha began the transition to Division I athletics in all sports, it joined the Summit League on July 1, 2012. With the departures of Centenary to Division III at the end of the 2010-11 athletic year, and Southern Utah and Oral Roberts for other Division I conferences at the end of the 2011-12 athletic year, the Summit League continued with nine institutions, all within the Midwest geographical region.
The conference unveiled the University of Denver (DU) as its 10th member on November 27, 2012, and the Pioneers joined in July 2013. While Denver is slightly outside The Summit's current Midwestern base, the city's status as a major air hub seemingly minimized travel issues for the other members. With Denver among the eight of ten WAC members switching to other conferences, that league searched for new members. UMKC announced on February 7, 2013, that it would be one of six schools joining the WAC for the 2013-14 season, dropping the Summit league back to nine member schools. Membership fell to eight schools on May 7, 2013, when Oakland announced that it was joining the Horizon League. Eight of the nine then-current Horizon League programs were former Summit League members with Oakland's move (the Horizon has since added two more members that were never in The Summit League, Northern Kentucky and Robert Morris, as well as another former Summit member in Purdue Fort Wayne).
The next changes to the conference's core membership were announced in 2017. First, on January 26, North Dakota, which had resolved its controversy by selecting the new nickname Fighting Hawks, unveiled as a new member beginning in 2018. Then, on June 28, IUPUI announced it would leave the conference to join the Horizon League effective July 1, 2017.
For much of 2018, speculation involving further league expansion focused on Augustana University, a Division II school located in the Summit's headquarters city of Sioux Falls. Many of the school's boosters have ties to Sanford Health, a hospital company that has long been a major league sponsor and also owns the office complex that houses the league headquarters. The university announced on December 14 that it would start a transition to Division I, though stating at the time that no such move would take place until at least 2021. The conference expanded anyway, announcing in June 2019 that UMKC would return in 2020 after a seven-year absence. However, shortly thereafter, Purdue Fort Wayne announced its 2020 departure for the Horizon League, maintaining the full-time conference membership at nine schools. Then, on October 4, 2019, the University of St. Thomas, a Minnesota school that was set to be expelled from its longtime athletic home of the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in 2021, announced that it received an invitation to join the Summit upon its MIAC departure. St. Thomas eventually received a waiver of an NCAA rule mandating that Division III schools can only transition to Division II, allowing the school to move directly to D-I on the originally announced schedule.
Full members Full members (non-football) Associate member (baseball, men's soccer, softball, swimming and diving, or men's tennis)
- Purdue Fort Wayne joined the league as IPFW. The athletic branding was changed to "Fort Wayne" in 2016, and to Purdue Fort Wayne shortly before the dissolution of IPFW on July 1, 2018.
- Southwest Missouri State adopted its current name of Missouri State University in 2005.
- The two former members that are part of the University of Wisconsin System, namely UW–Green Bay and UW–Milwaukee, now brand themselves for athletic purposes as "Green Bay" and "Milwaukee".
- Troy State adopted its current name of Troy University in 2004.
- UMKC rebranded its athletic program as "Kansas City" in 2019, a year before its return to the league.
The Summit League sponsors championship competition in nine men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Former full member Eastern Illinois is an associate member for men's and women's swimming and diving and men's soccer. Drake and Illinois State became associate members in men's tennis starting in 2017–18, and former full member Valparaiso rejoined for men's swimming and men's tennis at the same time. Valparaiso dropped men's tennis after the 2019–20 season, but remains a swimming associate.
|Swimming and diving||6||6|
|Track and field (indoor)||7||8|
|Track and field (outdoor)||7||8|
Men's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
Track & Field
Track & Field
|North Dakota State|
|South Dakota State|
- Northern Colorado will become a baseball associate in 2021 (2022 season).
- Associate member: Eastern Illinois
- Associate members: Eastern Illinois and Valparaiso (swimming only)
- Associate members: Drake and Illinois State
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by The Summit League which are played by member schools:
Future member St. Thomas indicated in gray; its listed affiliations reflect those in place when it joins the Summit.
|North Dakota State||MVFC||—||—||—||—||Big 12|
|South Dakota State||MVFC||—||—||—||—||Big 12|
Women's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
Track & Field
Track & Field
|North Dakota State|
|South Dakota State|
- Associate member Eastern Illinois.
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by The Summit League which are played by member schools:
Future member St. Thomas indicated in gray; its listed affiliations reflect those in place when it joins the Summit.
|Denver||—||Big 12||—||Big East||RMISA|
|South Dakota State||United Equestrian Conference &
National Collegiate Equestrian Association
Men's basketball in the NCAA tournamentEdit
|1986||Cleveland State||14*||defeated Indiana|
defeated Saint Joseph's
lost to Navy
|1987||Southwest Missouri State||13||defeated Clemson|
lost to Kansas
|1988||Southwest Missouri State||13||lost to UNLV|
|1989||Southwest Missouri State||14||lost to Seton Hall|
|1990||Southwest Missouri State||9*||lost to North Carolina|
|Northern Iowa||14||defeated Missouri|
lost to Minnesota
|1991||Green Bay||12||lost to Michigan State|
|Northern Illinois||13*||lost to St. John's|
|1992||Eastern Illinois||15||lost to Indiana|
|1993||Wright State||16||lost to Indiana|
|1994||Green Bay||12||defeated California|
lost to Syracuse
|1996||Valparaiso||14||lost to Arizona|
|1997||Valparaiso||12||lost to Boston College|
|1998||Valparaiso||13||defeated Ole Miss|
defeated Florida State
lost to Rhode Island
|1999||Valparaiso||15||lost to Maryland|
|2000||Valparaiso||16||lost to Michigan State|
|2001||Southern Utah||14||lost to Boston College|
|2002||Valparaiso||13||lost to Kentucky|
|2003||IUPUI||16||lost to Kentucky|
|2004||Valparaiso||15||lost to Gonzaga|
|2005||Oakland||16||defeated Alabama A&M**|
Lost to North Carolina
|2006||Oral Roberts||16||lost to Memphis|
|2007||Oral Roberts||14||lost to Washington State|
|2008||Oral Roberts||13||lost to Pittsburgh|
|2009||North Dakota State||14||lost to Kansas|
|2010||Oakland||14||lost to Pittsburgh|
|2011||Oakland||13||lost to Texas|
|2012||South Dakota State||14||lost to Baylor|
|2013||South Dakota State||13||lost to Michigan|
|2014||North Dakota State||12||defeated Oklahoma |
lost to San Diego State
|2015||North Dakota State||15||lost to Gonzaga|
|2016||South Dakota State||12||lost to Maryland|
|2017||South Dakota State||16||lost to Gonzaga|
|2018||South Dakota State||12||lost to Ohio State|
|2019||North Dakota State||16||defeated NCCU** |
lost to Duke
* At-large bid
** Opening round game
Summit League championships won per schoolEdit
|South Dakota State||6||2019-20||5||2018|
|North Dakota State||4||2019-20||5||2020|
|Purdue Fort Wayne||1||2015-16||0||N/A|
Summit League championships won per schoolEdit
|South Dakota State||6||2018-19||9||2019|
Future members St. Thomas (all sports) and Northern Colorado (baseball only) indicated in gray.
- North Dakota also schedules basketball games at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
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- MSU was known as Southwest Missouri State University until 2005.
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