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Big West Lifts Membership Moratorium – Expansion Coming?

Category: Big West Expansion & Realignment, Featured News

It wasn’t the biggest news yesterday, but the Big West officially lifted their membership moratorium. The conference originally put it’s membership on hold in 2005, a move that took some pressure off the idea of adding   then soon-to-be Divison 1, Cal-Bakersfield.

The Big West, a conference that over the past decade has transformed itself into an all-California group, currently has 9 members. Cal St. Bakersfield has long hoped for an invitation to join it’s California brethren in the Big West. But recent developments in the WAC might complicate that picture.

Since the departure of Boise St., the retreat by BYU to join for non-football sports, and the future losses of Fresno St. and Nevada, Hawaii has been looking to potentially leave the WAC for football independence. The largest problem was not having a home for it’s non-football sports. The Big West has been a top conference that Hawaii has targeted. And it makes sense. Hawaii currently has to transport all their sports athletes to such locations as Logan, UT, Las Cruses, NM, Moscow, ID, Ruston, LA, etc. A move to the Big West would mean having to fly to one of the 4 Los Angeles airports or 3 San Francisco airports. Hawaii would also likely have to offer the Big West schools some travel subsidies to travel to Hawaii. But that amount might be more tolerable as schools would only need to fly from SFO or LAX.

The Big West has set no timetable or set an official expansion plan. Hawaii remains an option, as does Cal St. Bakersfield. Bringing in both members might be less likely as it would mean 11 schools. The longshot would seem to be if Sacramento St. agreed to move to the Big West to bring the membership to 12, a move that would bring the Big Sky to a more manageable 10 all-sports members with 13 for football.

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  • Hawaii will indeed join the Big West from 2012 and move their football team to the MWC that same year.

  • Hawaii would seem less likely to leave the WAC since Nevada and Fresno State won't leave until 2012. Cal-State Bakersfield is a better geographic fit. I really don't see Sacramento State leaving the Big Sky for a worse basketball conference. The another long shot might be Seattle, since they will become full eligible in 2012. However, if Hawaii did leave the WAC and become independent for football, it would open up the door for schools like UTEP and North Texas to join since the travel would be greatly reduced, and that could also lead to Louisiana Tech moving to either the Sun Belt or, more than likely, Conference USA.


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