By Chad Courrier email@example.com
The Mankato Free Press
---- — BURNSVILLE — The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference has grown to 16 programs, which might seem like a lot, but new commissioner Erin Lind is focused on the five-state footprint and the opportunity to tell the Division II story in 16 markets.
“In any league, there’s always going to be programs at the top end,” she said. “But we don’t have any university that dominates every sport. I’m proud of this league. Challenging, yes, but I want to make this league more visible and shine the light on the student-athlete.”
The Northern Sun board of directors announced the hire Wednesday. Lind, who will be the conference’s fifth full-time commissioner, begin her duties July 1, replacing Butch Raymond.
“I’m excited. I’m humbled,” she said. “I’m looking forward to see what the future holds for the Northern Sun. It’s such a unique and diverse conference, with a solid group of administrators to work with.”
Lind joined the Northern Sun staff in 2001, serving as associate commissioner and senior woman administrator since 2005. During her tenure at the Northern Sun, Lind has been a member of the NCAA Division II Central Regional Advisory Committees for women’s basketball, volleyball and softball. She has served as Regional Advisory Committee Chair for men’s and women’s tennis. She was a member of the NCAA Division II Championships Committee and served as chair in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said he recently worked with Lind at the Northern Sun men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and he’s worked with her on various national tournaments that have been hosted by Minnesota State.
“I think she brings a lot to the table,” Buisman said. “She’s been a student-athlete in this league, and she’s had a great mentor in Butch. She’s well-connected in the region and nationally, and those relationships will allow her to be successful.”
Lind is a 2001 graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University and completed her master’s of education in sports management at the University of Minnesota in 2003.
Known as Erin Frye in her playing days, Lind was a starter for the Southwest women’s basketball team from 1998 to 2001, ending her career in seventh place in program history with 1,380 points. Lind was a first-team All-Northern Sun selection as a junior and honorable mention as a senior. She helped the Mustangs to the 2000-01 conference championship and a first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Lind said the conference has been working on a five-year strategic plan, that will be finished in June. One of the hot topics has been raising the scholarship limit in football, which should make the Northern Sun teams more competitive nationally.
“The league has been very successful in football, and scholarships are a part of the puzzle,” she said. “There’s still facilities and hiring great coaches. If our teams our successful in our conference, they should be successful on a national level.”