Conference realignment has forced some athletic departments to have to make some tough decisions with regards to their future.
The two schools that best exemplify the “musical chairs” of the last couple of years, in spite of a lack of national media attention, are Idaho and New Mexico State.
Football is king, and when the music stopped in the Mountain West’s expansion process the Vandals and Aggies are the ones left without a seat and in a conference (WAC) that’s on its last legs.
With that in mind, according to Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman the Vandals are poised to move their sports to the Big Sky with football becoming an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) independent.
The only thing that needs to be taken care of is the approval of the Idaho State Board of Education, and the group will hold a special session on Friday afternoon to either approve or deny the move.
Idaho is the only agenda item and it is a “request for authorization for independent scheduling of football games and for the President to explore and accept an invitation to the Big Sky Athletic conference.”
“We appreciate the State Board of Education’s consideration of our proposal for President M. Duane Nellis and Director of Athletics Rob Spear to explore what is best for the future of Vandal athletics, our student-athletes and our fans. Our priority continues to be to provide the best experience for our students, alumni and fans within a collegiate sports environment,” the school said in a statement released Thursday.
Idaho’s move, which many expect to be approved, would move the Big Sky to 12 members and return the Vandals to the conference they called home from 1963 to 1996.
And it drops the WAC to three committed (at least for now) members: New Mexico State, Denver and Seattle, with the latter two being non-football members and 2012 being their inaugural seasons in the conference.
Idaho is taking this path with the hope that expansion isn’t done, with the trickle-down effect opening a door for them in a conference that sponsors FBS football.
The WAC has been home to some good basketball rivalries over the years, but basketball is simply “inventory” in this current era.
Idaho’s decision simply moves the conference one step closer to its official date of expiration, whenever that may be.
Photo credit: University of Idaho (AD Rob Spear)