June 19, 2012

Big Sky commissioner speaks on Idaho, realignment, new TV deal

Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton joined 630 AM in Boise on Tuesday afternoon, and answered a lot of questions about the conference's plans for expansion, Idaho specifically, NMSU, Boise State, and other ideas. Here is a recap of what he said:

  • He has talked with Idaho as recently as last week. He wants to give them room to make their decision as they work in due diligence to all their options.
  • The Big Sky's position on Idaho remains the same as it has been. Idaho fits the conference profile exactly and Fullerton says he feels Idaho's programs will get better in the Big Sky.
  • Idaho has more of a timetable than the Big Sky does, although Fullerton said the offer to Idaho can't remain open-ended indefinitely -- he has other schools calling him often, too.
  • He has spoken to New Mexico State, but not nearly as much as Idaho. He would definitely listen if NMSU called with strong interest.
  • Fullerton said it costs a football program an additional $2-3 million per year to operate as an FBS program compared to operating as an FCS program. Idaho would save money by moving to the Big Sky. Their budget is similar to others in the Big Sky but isn't something that can compete in FBS.
  • Because of the new TV deal the conference has with Root Sports, the conference can offer schools like Idaho and NMSU a great platform, but at an FCS price, not an FBS price. The Big Sky's TV deal is one-of-a-kind at the FCS level.
  • Fullerton wouldn't pin down an exact number where the Big Sky would stop expanding, but did say Idaho would make 14 football-playing schools, and going more than 14 would be scary. He cited what happened to the WAC at 16 teams. "You wake up one morning and all of a sudden you have two conferences."
  • He said he has spoken with Boise State's athletic director briefly (for non-football sports). Fullerton indicated the Big Sky would be more interested in a football-playing member, but Boise fits the profile in other sports and again, he would listen to what they had to say.
Overall, the impression I got was that the Big Sky is definitely gunning for Idaho to round out its conference numbers and complete the geography before acting on any other possibilities (adding Idaho would make for 12 basketball schools and 14 football schools).


gomightyvandals said...

Give it a rest, Fullerton.

Tyler Irwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

the Sun Belt conference turned you down, Idaho. Listen to the thunder, get into the Big Sky while you still can.

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