U Mary continues growth as part of NCAA Division II - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

U Mary continues growth as part of NCAA Division II

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Bismarck, ND -

The University of Mary has had athletics since 1970, and at one point was a powerhouse in the NAIA.
In 2007 the Marauders became a full member of the NCAA and Division II.
In the last six years U Mary has seen growth but also disappointments.
We sat down with Athletic Director Roger Thomas to see what lies ahead for the Marauders.

 Tia Streeter-KX Sports: UND and NDSU have long dominated North Dakota college sports. But the University of Mary has been an incredibly successful program sitting in their shadow. Thomas thinks its easier to support state schools more than a private college like U Mary, but he also knows sports are entertainment and people want to see the best product, a winning team.

Roger Thomas-U Mary Athletic Director: I'm not going to lie to you I wish our attendance was better when I came here I probably coming from the places I had been I really thought well if we market it properly the people would really like to see the University of Mary athletes play anything because we're doing what UND and NDSU used to be doing a couple years ago we're playing the same teams same level well its happened and its not happened and I really thought we'd have better attendance to see us and our competition

Tia Streeter-KX Sports: When U Mary joined the NCAA they became a part of the Northern Sun Conference, consisting of schools in the upper Midwest. The NSIC is one of the BEST conferences in the country. NCAA has made the Marauders elevate not just their game but their programs all around.

Roger Thomas-U Mary Athletic Director: that basis to build off of and they had a good scholarship and budget base and like we all know like my checkbook at home you gotta have money to do things and our school has been very supportive everybody wants more so I hope they didn't hear that but we want to have enough to be dangerous and that's what we are right now, can we be a little more than dangerous that's what we're working on right now can we take that next step

Tia Streeter-KX Sports: Thomas knows there is still a lot of work to be done in building the U Mary brand to become something that's recognized not just in North Dakota but in the region. That recognition is how you build long term success. In the future he hopes the U Mary campus will become a bigger draw for games

Roger Thomas-U Mary Athletic Director: facilities right in town and they're working on them, the Bowl, Municipal Baseball field, that's all well and good and we'll play in there as long as possible but we feel like and the students feel like it would be great to make this more of a home

Tia Streeter-KX Sports: Thomas says the schools educational success is a big draw to recruits, but with almost 300 teams in Division II, success year in and year out is a big challenge. Right now the school is keeping pace

Roger Thomas-U Mary Athletic Director: can we really truly get over that hump you take the typical school that's really good in this league because half of our teams are from Minnesota they've been doing this a long time a beautiful football and basketball, not a totally facility question we have area after area where we are pretty good in things but we just feel like you're fighting the battle on so many fronts

The Leerfield Sports Directors Cup awards points for finishes in each sport throughout the year.
U Mary finished 88th in Division II out of more than 250 schools.

New bleachers and baskets are also being put in at the McDowell Activity Center for more comfort.

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