Idaho's athletic website said that the Vandals' athletic director and president are "looking at the possibility of returning other sports to the Big Sky Conference," and that a decision will be made in the next three weeks.
Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman is reporting that they will be moving to the Big Sky, and his notes from the teleconference certainly suggest that it is all but a done deal. While they are going to attempt football independence, there is not a lot of other places for them to go.
Idaho told the state board about its plans during an executive session Wednesday. In its documents to the state board, Idaho cites the re-establishment of historic rivalries, more regional travel and reduced costs and loss of academic class time for student-athletes.Many have said that the Big Sky should tell Idaho that if they want to join the conference, they should join in football as well, but it appears that the conference will not take that stance for now. One of the big reasons, I would guess, is that with so many challenging factors for Idaho as an independent, there has to be a strong thought within the Big Sky that Idaho will be joining the conference as a full member in 2015.
Idaho was a charter member of the Big Sky in 1963 and played in the league until 1996.
Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton told the Statesman on Wednesday that he would accept the Vandals under that arrangement.
"I would support that. It's not what we asked when we invited them," Fullerton said. "But I understand the concept."
For basketball, it is an interesting situation. It gets the conference up to a more convention 12 teams rather than 11 teams, which may mean that it makes sense to split into two divisions. That would be an interesting split because of all of the rivalries involved. My guess would be that we would see some type of split like this:
All speculation obviously, but that makes sense to me. The other thing is that it likely means that each team playing every other team in the conference twice will likely be a one season proposition. 20 conference games (which will happen this year) is already pushing it a bit, and increasing it to 22 conference games does not seem realistic at all. I would expect something along the lines of 16-18 conference games once (and if) Idaho joins the Big Sky.
Thoughts? Some of you have been following the Big Sky a lot longer than me and likely remember the days of Idaho being a member of the Big Sky... do you like the idea of them re-joining the conference?
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