Last week, the North Dakota University System announced the University System Activities Series to determine the official “Best School in North Dakota.”
“We believe that it is time to officially decide who is the superior school in the state,” University System Activities Series Commissioner John Applebottom said. “After five years of consulting, the Activities Series Board finally came up with a proper system.”
That system includes all 11 North Dakota schools entering the single-elimination tournament at different times given their classification, whether they are community colleges, universities or research universities.
“The Series opens with a single event play-in game. The two smallest colleges, Dakota College and Williston State, will face off,” Applebottom said.
From there, the winner of the play-in and the rest of colleges, Bismarck State, North Dakota State College of Science and Lake Region State, will pair off with the four universities, Dickinson State, Mayville State, Minot State and Valley City State.
The first round of games will be best of three activities, with the second round expanding to best of five.
The winners of round two will match up with the pair of research universities, North Dakota State and University of North Dakota. The semifinals will be best of five before the finals move to best of seven.
When asked about the inclusion of the two largest schools in the state coming into the bracket so late, Applebottom was defensive.
“We feel like that is the best place to have them enter as it makes the bracket flow nicely. It was not because we secretly feel like those two are the best schools,” Applebottom said with a sly smirk.
As for the activities for the competition, the Activities Series Board came up with a shortlist of 10 events and spread them out among the rounds.
“The play-in game will be an 18-hole frisbee golf game,” Applebottom said. “From there, the first round will feature pingpong, croquet and chess. Round two features badminton, whiffle ball and capture the flag before returning to frisbee golf and croquet, if necessary.”
Round three opens with a tug-of-war, followed by paintball, ultimate frisbee, an esport and chess.
“The esport competition will be the great equalizer. The school trailing will get to pick the game that will be used, allowing for a 24-hour preparation period,” Applebottom said.
The final consists of pingpong, badminton, whiffle ball, mini golf, capture the flag, esport before the all-deciding tug-of-war, if needed.
“The variation of activities is what makes this competition so unique. Couple that with the fact that any student can compete for any stage, this will become the most inclusive college event in the state,” Applebottom said.
The prize is the first of its kind. The winning school’s students will receive $25 each.
“We learned from North Carolina, if you make the prize available to all students, then there are no issues anywhere,” Applebottom said.
Along with the money, the winning school will get to develop an alternative to Campus Connection. Once the software is developed, the school will no longer need to use Campus Connection.
“We have heard some complaints about the system, so we will let them do something about it,” Applebottom said.
For the fans of the series, the events will be televised. Viewing parties will be set up at local establishments, as NDSU head of NDUS AS fans Brock Lee explained.
“Originally, we were thinking about having the viewing parties at a local bar, but after about hearing the details about the variety of activities involved in the NDUS AS, we decided that a menu with similar traits should be used. And it so happens the place already has Bison colors, Perkins,” Lee said.
The time and dates, along with the TV channel are yet to be set, but the final will be presented on ESPN 8.
“We are happy to partner with the Ocho for the championship round of the Series. It is a big honor for us all,” Applebottom said.