Augustana University is exploring a possible move into NCAA Division I athletics, according to the school's president.
University President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said Wednesday that the Sioux Falls school will consider a move from Division II to Division I, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported.
"We're now looking at it as part of a broader, long-term planning process," Herseth Sandlin said. "And we're not sure that it's the right thing to do. But we do think it's right to take a closer look."
Augustana, which has about 1,800 undergraduate students, last explored a possible reclassification 12 years ago, after South Dakota State University and North Dakota State University moved to D-I athletics, Herseth Sandlin said. The University of South Dakota and the University of North Dakota have since followed.
Herseth Sandlin said that "athletics can be a means to helping Augustana achieve its vision" of expanding opportunities and partnerships for the school and its students.
Greater visibility could allow Augustana more opportunities to share its story, which could spark an increase in enrollment, she said.
The move would require devoting more resources to the university's athletics programs, which have a current budget of about $10 million, according to Herseth Sandlin. South Dakota State and North Dakota State have an athletic budget twice as large.
"It's an enormous investment," Herseth Sandlin said. "It would require a lot of financial resources from the Sioux Falls business community and our alumni."
The school hopes to make a decision by the end of the fiscal year, she said.