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DSU Necessary? Absolutely, If It Adds More Sports!

This week’s backwards political thinking is laid bare by Madison Regent Randy Schaefer’s public statement on why Dakota State University needs to spend $100 million to build a whole new sport complex:

“This is more than a facilities upgrade and announcement,” Schaefer said. “I see it as a final stake in the ground.”

He said the state Legislature annually asks the Regents whether South Dakota has too many public universities, and he recalled the way DSU was considered as a possible site when the state needed a new prison in the 1980s. Instead, the University of South Dakota at Springfield was closed for that purpose.

The Legislature also asks regularly why DSU needs an athletics program, according to Schaefer. Currently, one out of every three students at DSU is an athlete.

“If we don’t have a stake in the ground, we’re at risk,” Schaefer said.

He believes a new athletics complex will prevent the Legislature from questioning the validity of the university’s program [Mary Gales Askren, “DSU Announces Construction of Athletics Events Center,” Madison Daily Leader, 2022.03.01].

If I’m following Randy’s thinking, there are legislators who think Dakota State University, whose mission is to turn out information technology experts who can make six-figure salaries and protect us from Russian cyberwarfare, does not serve a compelling state interest warranting continued tax support. But if we bulldoze Trojan Field and give a third of the student body more places to spend more time developing and exhibiting their athletic prowess than they do building their marketable lifetime job skills, those streamlining legislators will change their minds and focus their cost-cutting on some other institution with fewer bleachers and a shabbier track.

Perhaps we could apply Randy’s thinking about sport justifying the existence of a university to my . dad’s thinking about sheds. My dad has six sheds/garages/storage spaces on his property. If Randy were on my dad’s Board of Shed Regents, and if my mom came out and said, “We don’t need this many sheds!”, Randy would raise a bunch of money, put a TV, a fridge, and a bar in one of the sheds, and say, “See? We gotta have this shed!”

Yet I suspect Mom would remain unconvinced. She would point out the unchanged thesis of her original argument: Dad has too much junk. Throw out the junk, consolidate the remaining useful stuff in a couple-three sheds, and get rid of the rest of the sheds.

Sheds should serve their original purpose. So should schools of higher education. Piling entertainment and recreation facilities onto schools of higher education does not change their ability to efficiently satisfy their mission for the state.


  1. John C Dale 2022-03-03 07:44

    If cyber security means manning the 5G turrets, I’m out.

    I don’t want loaded hack-able quiet weapons on every street corner.

    Sadly, I think this is the undertone (and primary objective) of the cyber security initiative in SD.

    Is this not the common-sense design of simple systems with high ROI (that are easier to secure), but rather the installation and deployment of anti-human systems to push Cisco infrastructure sales for the 401K’s of folks who are selling out the country and taking a King’s wages from Social Security?

    Asking for a friend.

    Don’t be troubled.

    It’s just a Q (for question).

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-03 08:24

    So, John, do you believe adding multi- million dollar sport complexes validates Dakota State University‘s existence?

  3. larry kurtz 2022-03-03 08:39

    South Dakota Democrats need to run on a corporate income tax, ending video lootery, reducing the number of South Dakota counties to 25, turning Dakota State and/or Northern State University into community colleges, and empowering Indigenous communities to be the sole cannabis producers and distributors.

  4. Ruth Heidelberger 2022-03-03 10:49

    Cory, you are absolutely correct on the sheds. No more sheds!

    I see the problem of this structure for DSU as something the city of Madison doesn’t have the capacity to support. The city is not
    large enough to support many – many people at these ambitious game plans. No stores of any kind that can support people here.
    3 motels – a few eating establishments for dining. 1 grocery store – nothing to stop and shop at for clothes, family supplies –
    normal daily use things. A field house and grounds is extravagant planning. I’m not knocking DSU for want of this. DSU is
    important to the community-probably the one of the most important we have. Downtown is mostly not active at all. Industrial
    Park has been a good thing. Businesses for companies to bring into Madison. We try to support any business in Madison
    that we can. I see the problem with $100,000,000 project here in Madison, Do you?

  5. Mark Anderson 2022-03-03 18:05

    Jezz Cory, are there any colleges left in South Dakota or are they all Universities?

  6. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-03 21:27

    Well..I have a soft spot for General Beadle/Dakota State. It is a great place for rural, small school, low to moderate family income kids to go to college, work their way through. and start a career and in my generation I knew many kids who needed a break who did just that and became successful. The facilities at DSU are going on 70 years old and are antiquated. Do they need a 100 million dollar facility?? Well, they are building for a life of another 70 years. Will we need this college in Madison for 70 years? I guess that’s the question.

  7. Richard Schriever 2022-03-04 12:03

    Down here in Ecuador – as in the entirety of the rest of the civilized world – there is no such thing as a school (tax-payer supported or otherwise) athletics team. there are neighborhood teams, there are club teams. The club teams are all supported by the professional leagues/teams as developmental academies. If you are good enough at the local/community/amateur level, and get noticed by a pro scout, they will take you on and support both your athletic and educational endeavors (tutoring, scholarships, etc.). The US system is advantageous to the established traditional pro leagues/teams who provide no such support to the country with their dollars. MLS and NWSL are as close as it come with the club and national team academies, but public, private schools and universities also support their own soccer teams. In the rest of the world, state sponsored and private educational institutions have one mission – education. In the US Professional sports is highly socialized (more corporate welfare).

  8. Richard Schriever 2022-03-04 12:16

    BTW, I have discovered that the same applies to every other sort of “extra-curricular” activity here. Music for example is done entirely through private tutoring and there is competition (auditioning) to get into the special music schools operated by the various city and national symphonies. When I asked, I was told that the Universities do not offer music majors. On the other hand, getting a commercial driver’s license requires taking college-level courses.

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