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Big Sky Scheduling Problems


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Idaho State Journal (Pocatello)

Interesting that the Big Sky may take a rather radical step to save on travel costs and go to a "lone wolf" arrangement for basketball, where one team has a "bye" week during the conference season while the other eight teams play two games apiece. That would open up a number of non-conference dates within the Big Sky in January and February. Utah Valley State, CSU-Bakersfield, Seattle U, as well as UND USD would all be potential opponents.

One might question how long before a ten-team basketball league.

Conference basketball schedules are close to release, but the athletic directors will discuss the ''lone wolf'' plan during a conference call Thursday before the schedules are made official. The theory behind the plan is to lessen travel costs by using travel partners for eight of the teams and leaving one as the ''lone wolf.''

Idaho State and Northern Colorado appear to be more than a little frustrated with Sac State and Portland State:

Paul Bubb returned from the Big Sky meetings this week no closer to finding a conference for the Idaho State softball team. His search for an affiliation may have actually become more difficult.

''I'm frustrated,'' the Idaho State Athletic Director said on Friday. ''Northern Colorado and Idaho State have both made appeals ... and neither of us feel we've gotten any assistance from other (Big Sky) members.'' With only four schools sponsoring the sport, softball is still one team away from becoming an official Big Sky sport. Two of those schools - Portland State and Sacramento State - are already affiliated with a the Pacific Coast Softball Conference, and they aren't in a hurry to leave a conference that currently gives them a chance to reach the NCAA tournament for one that can't guarantee such an opportunity.

If a fifth team were to be added - such as Eastern Washington or Weber State, where it's a club sport - the Big Sky could include the sport officially and crown someone Big Sky Conference softball champion. Five teams aren't enough, however, to earn the conference champion an automatic trip to the NCAA tournament.

With the four WCC softball teams allies and their autobid, Sac State and Portland State are showing preference to the California schools rather than fellow Big Sky schools and are attempting to have Big Sky rules rewritten so that they would not be forced into the Big Sky if either E Wash or Weber State add softball:

The PCSC is reluctant to add Idaho State and Northern Colorado because of the added travel costs, said Wanless, who is serving this year as the conference president. Loyola Marymount, Saint Mary's College, Santa Clara and the University of San Diego are the conference's other members.

''We've discussed expansion of the league numerous times,'' Wanless said. ''If we were to expand and add Idaho State and Northern Colorado, you'd add two more flights. Schools aren't in a position to afford that right now.''

Sac State and Portland State could force their softball league to accept ISU and UNC, but choose not to. Any Sac St / Portland St estrangement with the rest of the Big Sky may be growing.

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From the Grizzoulian Blog, Montana's AD Jim O'Day had a number of comments that somewhat revealing about Montana's future, Big Sky issues, and possible parallel's to UND's situation?

On Montana and DIA football :

O'Day also posed the question of whether or not this would mean less Montana kids making it on the team. He offered no answer because no one really can. He pointed to Robin Selvig's success building a competitive program with local kids but also stated "that would be hard to duplicate if you were starting from scratch today."

O'Day brought an issue I haven't heard much about: the fact that most I-A conferences require 16 varsity sports. We only have 14.

"Which sports would you add (the minimum is 16, and UM currently offers 14)

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