Here is the Sioux Falls, SD paper's take on this story:
Football league moving forward
From staff and wire reports
Six athletic directors have scheduled another meeting to discuss forming a Division I-AA football conference.
Officials from South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Southern Utah, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, California Davis and Northern Colorado plan to meet Dec. 8-9 in Las Vegas.
The agenda includes bylaws, schedules, conference management and possible names and logos. St. Mary's College (Calif.) is allied with the group, but its athletic director will not attend.
"The game plan is to discuss issues," said SDSU Athletic Director Fred Oien said Saturday, adding that he thinks no decision will be made at that time to finalize the league.
This will be the second meeting regarding the proposed league. Oien said the officials will take details from the discussions back to their campuses for university presidents and coaches to fine-tune and analyze. Barring setbacks, a meeting to finalize the agreement likely will be held in January in Nashville when athletic directors attend the annual NCAA meetings.
"We're looking to go in with as much complete before making a final decision," Oien said.
The schools initially met in June at a national athletic directors' convention in Orlando, Fla.
NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said he was unsure if the schools would come out the upcoming meeting with a signed agreement.
"It's going to be fun to sit down and formally talk about some sort of conference," Taylor said.
SDSU and NDSU will be starting their transition to Division I-AA football and Division I for all other sports next year, most likely as independents in all sports.
Cal Poly, Davis, St. Mary's, Northern Colorado and Southern Utah are independents in football.
"It's not a done deal at this point, but I think all of us are encouraged by the nature and the spirit of the conversations. I'm real optimistic something will develop," Cal Poly athletic director John McCutcheon said.
"At this point, there doesn't seem to be anything overwhelmingly challenging that lies ahead of us."
That could change if the Big Sky Conference begins looking seriously at NDSU and SDSU. Both schools would like to join the conference, which sponsors I-AA football and programs for the schools' other sports.
"If the Big Sky came knocking on our door, we obviously couldn't say 'Let us join without football,'" Taylor said. "Yet, (the independents) are going to want a commitment."
Northern Colorado is a full independent in all sports. Cal-Davis is joining the Big West, and the other schools are already members of other conferences for their remaining sports.
Taylor said the proposed league might look to the Mid-Continent Conference to help manage it. Southern Utah is a member of that conference, which does not offer football.
Most of the schools have started scheduling each other. Oien said the Jackrabbits have six games already under contract or agreed upon in principle for the 2004 football season.
Davis has agreements to play the other six teams next year. NDSU has games at Northern Colorado, Davis and St. Mary's on its 2004 schedule.
The earliest the new league could begin a full schedule would likely be 2005.