League History

Celebrating its 35th season of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions, and over 80 Academic All-Americans, 75 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level.

Each year, approximately 3,000 student-athletes continue to raise the bar and help The Summit League reach exceptional success and development. Within the past five years alone, The Summit League produced a national postseason team tournament championship and six NCAA Champions, accounting for more than half of its all-time total. That level of success also carries into the classroom. In 2015-16, The Summit League ranked first for NCAA Graduation Success Rate in women’s basketball for the second consecutive season and 14 teams across nine sports recorded perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores. Those achievements came on the heels of recent prestigious individual academic honors such as the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Years and Capital One Academic All-America of the Year awarded to Summit League student-athletes. The Summit League also produces the highest quality in competition as evidenced by 2016 representation in the Rio Summer Olympics, National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and Professional Golf Association (PGA).

Within the past decade, The Summit League has …

•     Won a national team tournament championship and achieved a final national ranking in eight different sports.

•     Claimed NCAA Regional Championships in two sports and advanced in five additional NCAA team championship tournaments.

•     Had 101 teams receive NCAA Public Recognition Awards (among top 10 percent of Academic Progress Rate (APR) in their sport) since 2010.

•     Totaled 75 teams with maximum/perfect APR scores in the past four years.

•     Crowned eight of the league’s 10 NCAA Champions since 2007 and won five NCAA national championships and 11 NCAA statistical titles in the past five years.


Since its inception in 1982, The Summit League recorded several transcendent moments that resonate on the national stage. While known as the Mid-Continent Conference, the league’s first two decades produced a pair of appearances in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s “Sweet 16” and the Women’s College World Series as well as three individual NCAA Track and Field Champions.

In 2016, South Dakota won The Summit League’s first national postseason team tournament title by claiming the WNIT crown in women’s basketball. Oral Roberts gave The Summit League its initial baseball regional crown and Super Regional appearance in 2006 and three years later, North Dakota State became the league’s first softball team to achieve the same feat. The 2008-09 season also saw South Dakota State’s women’s basketball team carry a national ranking throughout a majority of the year and cap its season with an NCAA Tournament first round victory. In 2014, North Dakota State gained the national spotlight with a victory in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Round of 64. In 2014-15, North Dakota State finished in the national Top 25 softball rankings, one of six league teams to achieve a national ranking in their respective sport that year.

Throughout its history, The Summit League has produced 10 NCAA Championships, three Olympic medalists and numerous All-Americans in the sports of track and field, swimming and diving and cross country. Several professional athletes and draft choices have come directly from The Summit League, including three Major League Baseball first round picks, a pair of NBA first round choices, and two WNBA selections. In addition, Summit Leaguers compete in the MLS, and on the PGA and LPGA Tours. Former Summit Leaguer Kevin Duckworth (NBA) was a two-time all-star during his professional career. 

To coincide with The Summit League’s 30th Anniversary Season in 2011-12, the league released a list of its Top 30 Distinguished Contributors from the Division I era as selected by a panel of voters from member schools and the media. Four individual NCAA champions and three Olympic medalists along with four NBA players and two World Series Champions headlined The Summit League’s list of top student-athletes, coaches and administrators that was the jewel of the anniversary celebration.


•   South Dakota became the first Summit League team to win a national postseason tournament by capturing the 2016 WNIT Championship while South Dakota State was just one point away from making the league’s first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.

•   Omaha’s Cole Gruber was named the 2016 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year for baseball, marking the second consecutive season that a Summit League student-athlete received a top sport honor. 

•   North Dakota State’s Erin Teschuk competed in the Rio Summer Olympics after capturing the 2016 Canadian National Championship in the 3,000 Steeplechase.

•   The Summit League hosted the 2016 NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D. 

•   Ten new attendance records, including new standards for both the men’s and women’s tournaments and the overall combined total, were set at the 2016 Summit League Basketball Championships, one year after posting 11 men’s and women’s tournament marks.

•   Summit League women’s basketball led all Division I leagues in the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate measure for the second straight year in 2015-16 and 14 teams across nine sports attained perfect Academic Progress Rate scores. 

•   A total of 10 All-Americans and seven Academic All-Americans hailed from The Summit League in 2015-16.

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