South Dakota's two largest universities will compete in an annual athletic and academic competition, strengthening their rivalry and vying for a new traveling trophy.
The South Dakota Showdown Series, announced Wednesday, will pit the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits against the University of South Dakota Coyotes in 17 men's and women's sports and also carries an academic component.
The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council is sponsoring the competition, which will benefit Feeding South Dakota, a nonprofit that provides 450 organizations with food to distribute to families across the state.
"Not everyone realizes how important rivalries are, both academically and athletically," said Jim Abbott, USD's president. "It's fun to be involved in a very positive situation, particularly when we can help feed South Dakota."
USD in Vermillion and SDSU in Brookings sit 115 miles apart along the Interstate 29 corridor in eastern South Dakota.
The showdown will feature a point system, with each school able to earn up to 24 points per year based on head-to-head competition and Summit League Championship finishes in 17 men's and women's sports. And if student-athletes maintain at least a cumulative 3.0 grade point average, schools can earn three points.
"Without academics, we wouldn't have student athletes," said SDUS president David Chicoine.
On Nov. 17 in Brookings, the schools will renew a football rivalry that dates back more than a century. After the last gridiron meeting between the Jackrabbits and the Coyotes in 2003, SDSU was reclassified as an NCAA Division I institution. USD has since gained the same classification.
"We've been off for a while, but we get the opportunity to respect the tradition and the history and the great moments that we've had in the past," said Justin Sell, SDSU's athletic director. "We also get a chance to maybe do some new things to help build it and grow it."
The competition will amp up the natural rivalry the two schools, drawing on the energy, enthusiasm and passion of the schools' fan bases, said USD athletic director David Sayler.
"In a state like this, in South Dakota with these two institutions, it's going to bring a lot of great folks together," he said.
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