South Dakota State University. Jackrabbit Athletics

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South Dakota State University. Jackrabbit Athletics

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Administrative interest and support for varsity athletics was non-existent in the early history of South Dakota State College. This situation was not unique at South Dakota State but very similar to the attitude that existed at other land-grant colleges. College administrators looked upon competitive athletics as frivolous, dangerous and unnecessary pursuits, which were totally incompatible with the philosophy and objectives of higher education. It was left to students interested in competitive athletics to provide the leadership, organization and administration of early athletic endeavors. / Football was organized in the fall of 1885 and like baseball, track and field participation was of the intramural nature. Early athletic endeavors usually found competition between classes or divisions within the college. / Before the turn of the century, intercollegiate athletic competition included a variety of sports and activities: baseball, football, track and field, tennis, bicycle races and oratorical contests were all popular. It is claimed that athletic contests among colleges actually got started as the result of oratorical contests. Contestants in state oratorical competition decided that the value of their meet might be enhanced by the inclusion of some form of physical endeavor. / One of the major obstacles in the development of early athletics was the disregard of the necessity for hiring a coach. Older students or an interested volunteer from the faculty often coached early teams. / The year 1922 marked a new era for South Dakota State athletic teams as the North Central Conference had been formed. Dr. Harry Severin, Professor of Zoology at South Dakota State, played an important role in the formation and administration of the conference and served continuously for 40 years as conference secretary. The first championship contested by the conference was won by South Dakota State College. / South Dakota State University has been very active in intercollegiate athletics since the 1920s. In addition to a great deal of success in North Central conference participation, SDSU has pioneered and promoted many new sports such as: wrestling, gymnastics, field hockey, swimming, and a variety of outstanding sports clubs. / South Dakota State University became an active member of NCAA Division I, starting at the beginning of the 2008-09 academic year.


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