League History

Through 36 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 115,000 at nine institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Purdue Fort Wayne (Purdue University Fort Wayne), the University of North Dakota, 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 12 NCAA Champions along with over 100 Academic All-Americans, and nearly 125 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 six years alone, The Summit League produced a national postseason team tournament championship, an NCAA semifinal appearance, and seven NCAA Champions. 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. A total of 15 Summit League squads achieved perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores in the most recently released figures. Those achievements came on the heels of several prestigious individual academic honors awarded to Summit League student-athletes, including: the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Capital One Academic All-America of the Year.

The Summit League also produces the highest quality in competition. In 2016-17, former Summit League student-athletes competed 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, reached an NCAA semifinal 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 117 teams receive NCAA Public Recognition Awards (among top 10 percent of Academic Progress Rate (APR) in their sport) since 2010.

> Totaled 90 teams with maximum/perfect APR scores in the past five years.

> Crowned nine of the league’s 11 NCAA Champions since 2007 and won seven NCAA national championships and 11 NCAA statistical titles in the past six 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, Denver became the first Summit League team to reach an NCAA Final Four when its men’s soccer team advanced to the College Cup semifinal round. The season prior, 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 11 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.

The Summit League announced the formation of its Hall of Fame during its 35th anniversary season in 2016-17. The inaugural class celebrated eight decorated individuals who combined for 17 league Player or Coach of the Year awards, eight All-America honors, an Olympic Gold medal, and a World Series title.


> In 2016, Denver men’s soccer became the first league team to reach an NCAA Final Four in any sport and achieved the highest national ranking (No. 3) of any men’s sport in league history.

> South Dakota’s Chris Nilsen became the first freshman in league history to win a national championship when he claimed the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Pole Vault title. Nilsen claimed the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Pole Vault title as a sophomore.

> The Summit League produced 19 All-Americans in 2016-17, including eight first-team honorees, and nine Academic All-America selections, led by a quartet of first teamers.

> Oral Roberts’ Matt Whatley won The Summit League’s first national individual honor when he was named as the Johnny Bench Award recipient, honoring college baseball’s top catcher.

> A total of 15 Summit League teams attained maximum/perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores in the most recently released figures in 2017.

> Seven Summit League student-athletes, representing five sports, garnered national Player of the Week recognition in 2016-17.

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