The South Dakota High School Activities Association established a Distinguished Service Award program in 1976 with the first awards being presented at the State Basketball Tournaments in 1977. The purpose of the program is to recognize outstanding service to the youth of the state through various high school activities programs. Candidates for the award are nominated by the schools with the final selection being made by the Board of Directors. Until 1983-84, the awards fell into three categories: Service through the News Media, Service through School Programs, and Service through Community Support. Effective the 1985-86 school year, the categories were changed to include the following: Administrator, Board of Education Member, Coach, Contributor, Director, and Official. In 2000, the award categories were once again changed to the following: Administrators, Board of Education, Coaches & Directors, Contest Officials, and Contributors. The Distinguished Service Award listing was merged to reflect the categories as adopted in 2000.