Commissioner Fullerton mentions the Dakotas is a scenario that would include a divisional lineup. In order to get to two divisions, you need three more. UND was sent a letter, and plays both football and basketball along with other sports. Unless they change their mind on SUU or Cal-Davis or Cal Poly would change their minds, there's not really any other choice but 3 from the Dakotas to acheive the Divisional/Dakota Scenario and to achieve the goal of an "even number" that Commissioner Fullerton mentions.
Over 20 schools received letters from the Big Sky concerning expansion.UND is one of many.
Why add three schools from the Dakotas? Seems like it would be a nightmare for travel partners.
UNC is currently the odd one out. UND/NDSU could be travel partners and SDSU and UNC can be travel partners. There's not really a travel partner nearby to UNC that is possible that has both football and basketball. EWU/PSU, ISU/WSU, UM/MSU, SSU/NAU, UND/NDSU and SDSU/UNC could be the partners.
There is no mention anywhere from the BSC that Denver is a likely candidate, especially from both these articles posted.
The Big Sky conference is already sprawled out anyway. This is one of the major problems with expanding to the east in the Dakotas in the first place, some 750 miles to 1,750 miles from all the conference members for a fledgling 1-AA league.
The Big Sky has made expansion decisions through consensus recently. Sac State, PSU, and NAU are not going to mold to a consensus very easily or very likely on the Dakotas given shear one-half continent distance. Other than a even number, there's really no reason to expand, and these members may care more about travel costs than an even number.
But if they are going to two-division format and pairing up teams, well UND is about it, unless they change their minds on SUU, or Cal-Davis, and Cal Poly change their minds. If Cal-Davis or Cal-Poly changed their minds, with the exception of being in the Sacremento market already, those are better academic schools than the Dakotas. Especially Cal-Davis, a member of the AAU (Pac 10 level academics). If they are going to a two-division format and need pairs, there's really no other option.
Who were the 20 schools?
Eastern New Mexico?
Utah Valley State (which is barely not a Junior College)?
Western State College?
If they want Academics/flagships/research, outside of Cal-Davis, well, UND meets those more than any of the above.