Facebook Twitter

IDAHO SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO JOIN BIG WEST, NCAA PRESIDENT SAYS

SHARE IDAHO SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO JOIN BIG WEST, NCAA PRESIDENT SAYS

Idaho should be accepted into the Big West Conference for all sports and have a chance to play NCAA Division I-A football, the NCAA's president says.

Joe Crowley, who will be among a Big West contingent visiting Moscow on Tuesday, said he will endorse Idaho's wish to join the league.A committee appointed by university President Elisabeth Zinser has recommended that Idaho leave the Big Sky Conference, which plays I-AA football, for the Big West.

Boise State, another Big Sky member, also would like to move to the Big West.

Both schools would need the approval of the state Board of Education, and the Big West Conference has not yet formally invited either school to join.

Nevada left the Big Sky for the Big West in 1992. Crowley, who is president at Nevada in Reno, said the benefits have been substantial.

"It's unfortunate this is the way the world works but when you go from I-AA to I-A, it makes a significant difference in the way people perceive your institution," Crowley said. "Our attendance went up dramatically and immediately."

To play I-A football, schools are generally required to have stadiums with 30,000 seats, and average paid attendance of 17,000. The Kibbie Dome seats 16,000, and the Vandals rarely fill the building.

The university can apply for a waiver, but schools which fail to meet both the stadium-size and attendance minimum are unlikely to receive the waiver after the 106 Division I-A schools vote, Crowley said.

But Crowley said he believes Idaho might qualify under a provision in the NCAA bylaws that makes exceptions "where circumstances exist that are beyond the control of the institution."

He said he couldn't elaborate.