WHITEFISH, Mont. (AP) -- Southern Oregon University and North Dakota's Dickinson State will join the Frontier Conference at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season.
Conference Commissioner Kent Paulson said Tuesday that Dickinson State will join as a full member, while Southern Oregon will join as an associate member in football.
Officials from the two universities, as well as from Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., and Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D., were in Billings this week to discuss the expansion. Menlo and Jamestown were not rejected, but asked to be considered in the future.
The Frontier Conference Council of Presidents has said it was interested in expansion because it would increase opportunities and competition for student-athletes, and the conference would receive more national recognition.
Tuesday's announcement marks the first time the conference has expanded since 2006, when Eastern Oregon University joined.
"The presidents have authorized me to expand the conference and this is just the first step," Paulson said in a statement. "Several other schools have expressed interest in joining and that could happen prior to the 2012 season."
The conference will have eight teams competing in football and nine teams competing in volleyball, and men's and women's basketball.
The conference includes Carroll College in Helena, Montana State-Northern in Havre, Montana Tech in Butte, Montana Western in Dillon and Rocky Mountain College in Billings as full members that offer football, along with the University of Great Falls, Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho, and Westminster College in Salt Lake City that do not have football. Eastern Oregon in LaGrande, Ore., is a football-only member.
Dickinson State is in Dickinson, N.D., and Southern Oregon is in Ashland, Ore.