Here are some highlights from today's Fargo paper.
NDSU's odds increase for Big Sky
By Jeff Kolpack, The Forum
Published Friday, July 23, 2004
North Dakota State is on the verge of making another run at membership in the Big Sky Conference. This time, the league may take NDSU more seriously.
An Aug. 9 meeting of the Big Sky Council of Presidents in Salt Lake City will be the second time in 18 months the group will hold a special session to discuss expansion.
A 2003 meeting in Salt Lake City was assembled at the request of Montana State president Geoffrey Gamble. This summit appears to have a more widespread appeal.
"I don't think there's any one reason or one person," said Dusty Clements, Big Sky assistant commissioner. "But things have finally shaken out west. The dominos have fallen and I think we all want to get on the same page."
The University of Idaho, a former Big Sky member, announced last month that it is bolting the Division I-A Sun Belt Conference for the I-A Western Athletic Conference.
Idaho was said to be a candidate to return to the I-AA Big Sky because of new Division I-A football attendance requirements. But those standards are being re-evaluated within the NCAA and may not come to fruition.
"My feeling all along was that if Idaho got into the WAC, that would push (the Big Sky) to figure something else out," said NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor. . . .
NDSU's momentum was spurred by comments made by Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton at the league's annual meeting in Park City, Utah, earlier this week.
He said the league is conducting an internal evaluation of available schools that includes NDSU, South Dakota State, Southern Utah and Northern Colorado.
"I was literally taken aback by the strength of what he said," Taylor said. . . .
Clements said a special expansion meeting is necessary because there isn't enough time to address those issues at annual meetings.
The 2003 gathering did not result in any action. NDSU and SDSU were told the league had no interest in expanding east at the present time.
At eight teams, the Big Sky is on the lower end in Division I in terms of the number of members. Division I conferences require at least seven members in order to receive NCAA dispersal money. . . .