Haskell sports will again compete independently next year

School still lacks funds to revive football program

Haskell Indian Nations University basketball player Tyler Sumpter (30) brings the ball up court during Wednesday's NAIA tournament game against Dakota Wesleyan at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.

The sports teams at Haskell Indian Nations University will again compete in the Association of Independent Institutions next year.

Haskell athletics director Todd Davis told Haskell’s National Board of Regents this week he hopes that won’t be permanent but that, for now, Haskell would remain independent.

“We’re trying to find a conference,” he said. “At the same time, we’re trying to find one that fits with Haskell.”

In April 2015, Haskell announced that Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference was dissolving, leaving Haskell with no conference for the 2015-16 school year.

Davis said the Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference could be a potentially good fit except that it has started requiring that member schools have football teams.

“It kind of puts us outside the circle,” he said. “There are some other conferences that are in the area, but we still feel like they’re a little too big for what we’re trying to do.”

Haskell announced in May 2015 it was suspending its football program, primarily due to a lack of funds. Davis started as athletics director a few months later, and told the regents last fall Haskell could not responsibly bring back football without lining up funding at least five years out — in addition to a long-term plan for its financial stability.

He reiterated that stance Thursday, saying it would take $250,000 to $500,000 a year to “do it right” and that money would need to be raised from outside sources.

“If you do it for a year or two, and you’re right back in the same situation … I’m not for sure that you’re really doing yourself any good,” Davis said. “We’ve already discovered that the financing would have to come from outside the four walls of this institution.”