Briar Cliff University (BCU) is excited to announce that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of South Dakota (USD) to play its home football games for the 2013 and 2014 seasons at the NCAA Division I DakotaDome facility. This coming fall, the Chargers are slated to play five home games at Bishop Heelan's Memorial Field and have contracted one home game at the DakotaDome.
The 2012 campaign will be the 10th season of varsity football at BCU. Steve Gast, the BCU Director of Athletics, said, "This initiative will be a great step forward to enhancing the quality of Briar Cliff athletics. It is just one outcome of the recent strategic planning effort conducted by BCU. This new partnership with USD presents a tremendous opportunity to immediately enhance our football program while we work to realize our long-term goals."
"BCU is embarking on an incredible new future," Gast explained. "There are going to be some truly innovative academic, as well as athletic, initiatives being implemented. A guiding theme for this new future is that the BCU campus will be wherever learning, working and living can take place. While the ‘Cliff' remains our home, we will build a network of connected, and often shared, sites where we teach, learn, work, compete and recreate. We will be constantly evolving innovative ways to satisfy our athletic and recreational needs. We feel that the DakotaDome is the first example of this. It will provide a tremendous game-day environment for our football team, our opponents, our students, fans and everyone associated with BCU football."
The DakotaDome, located on the USD campus in Vermillion, S.D., has been referred to as one of the region's most recognizable structures. The South Dakota Board of Regents recently approved the replacement of the Dome's turf. This new turf is expected to be installed prior to the 2012 season which will further improve the game environment for student-athletes and fans.
"USD has been extremely accommodating in creating this partnership," said Gast. "We are excited about the future of our football program and the growing of a strong relationship with USD."
David Sayler, USD's Director of Athletics, added, "We are looking forward to the relationship with Briar Cliff University and hosting their football program in the DakotaDome. The Dome has a long-standing tradition of supporting the region and we see this as the beginning of a great partnership with Briar Cliff."
This coming fall, the Chargers will open their season, Sept. 1 with a road game at Doane. They will then host Graceland and play at Dakota Wesleyan before hosting the Broncos of Hastings, at 1 p.m., Sept. 22, at the DakotaDome. Briar Cliff head coach Tom Rethman said he embraces this opportunity.
"Our players are really looking forward to playing in the DakotaDome," said Rethman. "There are not many NAIA teams that have an opportunity to play in a venue like this. It will be great to be able to call it our home for the near future."
After its "Dome" game, Briar Cliff will play at Dordt (Sept. 29) before hosting Concordia (Oct. 6), Dakota State (Oct. 13) and Nebraska Wesleyan (Oct. 27). The Chargers will also play at Northwestern (Oct. 20) and at Midland (Nov. 3) before hosting crosstown Morningside (Nov. 10). It is believed that Briar Cliff will be one of only a couple NAIA schools who play their regular season home games in a dome. Montana State Northern is expected to begin playing its games in a dome this fall.