|Big Sky Conference|
|Established||1963, 56 years ago|
|Region||Western United States|
The Big Sky Conference is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA's Division I, with football competing in the Football Championship Subdivision. Member institutions are located in the western United States in the nine states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Four affiliate members each participate in one sport. Two schools from California are football-only participants, and two schools from the Northeast participate only in men's golf.
An athletic conference is a collection of sports teams, playing competitively against each other at the professional, collegiate, or high school level. In many cases conferences are subdivided into smaller divisions, with the best teams competing at successively higher levels. Conferences often, but not always, include teams from a common geographic region.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit organization which regulates athletes of 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.
Initially conceived for basketball, the Big Sky was founded 56 years ago in 1963 with six members in four states; four of the charter members have been in the league from its founding, and a fifth returned in 2014 after an 18-year absence.
The name "Big Sky" came from the popular 1947 western novel by A. B. Guthrie Jr.; it was proposed by Harry Missildine, a sports columnist of the Spokesman-Review just prior to the founding meetings of the conference in Spokane in February 1963,and was adopted with the announcement of the new conference five days later.
The Big Sky is a 1947 Western novel by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. It is the first of six novels in Guthrie's sequence dealing with the Oregon Trail and the development of Montana from 1830, the time of the mountain men, to "the cattle empire of the 1880s to the near present." The first three books of the six in chronological story sequence — The Big Sky, The Way West, and Fair Land, Fair Land — are in themselves a complete trilogy, starting in the 1830s and ending in the 1870s.
Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr. was an American novelist, screenwriter, historian, and literary historian known for writing western stories. His novel The Way West won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and his screenplay for Shane (1953) was nominated for an Academy Award.
Spokane is a city in Spokane County in the state of Washington in the northwestern United States. It is located on the Spokane River west of the Rocky Mountain foothills in eastern Washington, 92 miles (148 km) south of the Canada–US border, 18 miles (30 km) from the Washington–Idaho border, and 228 miles (367 km) east of Seattle along Interstate 90.
Starting in 1968, the conference competed at the highest level (university division) in all sports except football (college division). The sole exception was Idaho, in the university division for football through 1977 (except 1967, 1968).
The Idaho Vandals are the college football team that represents the University of Idaho and plays its home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho. Idaho is a member of the Big Sky Conference in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The current head coach is Paul Petrino, who began his tenure in 2013.
The 1977 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1977 NCAA Division I football season. The Vandals were led by fourth-year head coach Ed Troxel and were members of the Big Sky Conference, then in Division II. They played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
In 1974, half of the Big Sky's ten sports were dropped (baseball, skiing, swimming, golf, and tennis), leaving football, basketball, wrestling, track, and cross country.
Women's sports were added 31 years ago in 1988, moving from the women's-only Mountain West Athletic Conference (1982–88).
The Mountain West Athletic Conference (MWAC) was a women's college athletic conference in the western United States.
The 2012–13 season marked the completion of a half century of athletic competition and a quarter century sponsoring women's collegiate athletics. Before the season the league introduced a new logo to celebrate this.
The 25th season of women's athletics also marked a first for the league, as Portland State won the league's inaugural softball championship. From 1982 to 1988, women's sports were conducted in the Mountain West Athletic Conference.
The Big Sky sponsors championships in sixteen sports, including men's and women's cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track and field, basketball, and tennis. There are also championships in football, and in women's volleyball, soccer, and softball.|
|Eastern Washington University||Cheney, Washington||1882||1987||13,453||Eagles|
|University of Idaho||Moscow, Idaho||1889||1963, 2014||11,534||Vandals|
|Idaho State University||Pocatello, Idaho||1901||1963||15,553||Bengals|
|University of Montana||Missoula, Montana||1893||1963||10,092||Grizzlies|
|Montana State University||Bozeman, Montana||1893||1963||16,069||Bobcats|
|Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff, Arizona||1899||1970||27,715||Lumberjacks|
|University of Northern Colorado||Greeley, Colorado||1889||2006||12,087||Bears|
|Portland State University||Portland, Oregon||1946||1996||28,241||Vikings|
|California State University, Sacramento||Sacramento, California||1947||1996||28,811||Hornets|
|Southern Utah University||Cedar City, Utah||1897||2012||7,656||Thunderbirds|
|Weber State University||Ogden, Utah||1889||1963||27,949||Wildcats|
North Dakota left the Big Sky in 2018, with its non-football sports joining the Summit League.The football team became an FCS independent for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but continues to play a full Big Sky football schedule due to contractual commitments. In those seasons, football games against North Dakota will count in the Big Sky standings for their opponents. Afterwards, North Dakota will join the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020.
|Binghamton University, SUNY||Vestal, New York||1946||2014||Public||16,695||$101,414,229||Bearcats||America East||Men's golf|
|California Polytechnic State University||San Luis Obispo, California||1901||2012||Public||20,186||$207,485,860||Mustangs||Big West||Football|
|University of California, Davis||Davis, California||1905||2012||Public||35,415||$968,230,000||Aggies||Big West||Football|
|University of Hartford||West Hartford, Connecticut||1877||2014||Private||7,025||$146,113,000||Hawks||America East||Men's golf|
|Institution||Location||Founded||Joined||Left||Type||Enrollment||Nickname||Subsequent conference membership|
|Boise State University||Boise, Idaho||1932||1970||1996||Public||22,678||Broncos|| Big West (1996–2001)|
Mountain West (2011–present)
|California State University, Northridge||Northridge, California||1958||1996||2001||Public||36,070||Matadors||Big West (2001–present)|
|Gonzaga University||Spokane, Washington||1887||1963||1979||Private||7,764||Bulldogs||WCC (1979–present)|
|University of Nevada||Reno, Nevada||1874||1979||1992||Public||18,227||Wolf Pack|| Big West (1992–2000)|
Mountain West (2012–present)
|University of North Dakota||Grand Forks, North Dakota||1883||2012||2018||Public||14,906||Fighting Hawks||Summit League (2018–present)|
Full membersAssoc. members (football only)Full members (except football)Assoc. members (other sports)Other conferenceOther conference
As of the 2016–17 school year, the Big Sky sponsors championships in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports.Each core member institution is required to participate in all of the 13 core sports. Men's core sports are basketball, cross country, football, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and tennis. Women's core sports are basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis, and volleyball.
Cal Poly and UC Davis participate as football-only affiliates, otherwise participating in the Big West Conference. Binghamton and Hartford are affiliates in men's golf only, otherwise participating in the America East Conference. Before the 2014–15 school year, the latter two schools had participated in men's golf alongside five full Big Sky members in the single-sport America Sky Conference.The return of Idaho brought the number of members participating in men's golf to six, which led to the Big Sky adding men's golf and absorbing the America Sky Conference.
The Big Sky is unusual among Division I all-sports conferences in not sponsoring baseball. The conference originally sponsored baseball in 1964, with all members participating. When Boise State and Northern Arizona arrived for the 1971 season, competition was split into two divisions of four teams each, with the winners in a best-of-three championship series. two years.Montana State and Montana soon dropped the sport and by the 1973 season, only six teams remained but the divisions were kept, and Boise State moved over to the North Division for
In May 1974, the Big Sky announced its intention to discontinue five of its ten sponsored sports. It retained football, basketball, cross-country, track, and wrestling, and dropped conference competition in baseball, golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing. in 1975. Boise State and Idaho competed in the NorPac for six seasons, then discontinued baseball after the 1980 season.Of the eleven Big Sky baseball titles, four each went to Idaho (1964,'66,'67,'69) and Gonzaga (1965,'71,'73,'74), and three to Weber State (1968,'70,'72). Gonzaga won the final title in 1974 over Idaho State in three games, after losing the first game in Pocatello. Southern division champion Idaho State chose to end its baseball program weeks following the conference's announcement, and Gonzaga, Idaho, and Boise State joined the new Northern Pacific Conference (NorPac) for baseball
In 2016, North Dakota announced on April 12 that it was their last baseball season.As of 2017, only Northern Colorado and Sacramento State compete in the sport, both as affiliate members in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
|Track and field (Indoor)|
|Track and field (Outdoor)|
|Football||Golf||Tennis||Track and field|
|Track and field|
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Big Sky Conference which are played by Big Sky schools:
|Northern Colorado||WAC||No||No||Big 12|
|Sacramento State||WAC||No||Big West||No|
|Golf||Soccer||Softball||Tennis||Track and field|
|Track and field|
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Big Sky Conference which are played by Big Sky schools:
|Sacramento State||Independent||MPSF||The American||No||No|
|Southern Utah||No||Mountain Rim||No||No||No|
|School||Football stadium||Capacity||Basketball arena||Capacity|
|Cal Poly||Alex G. Spanos Stadium||11,075||Football-only member|
|Eastern Washington||Roos Field||8,600||Reese Court||6,000|
|Idaho||Kibbie Dome||16,000|| Cowan Spectrum |
|Idaho State||Holt Arena||12,000|| Holt Arena (men) |
Reed Gym (women)
|Montana||Washington–Grizzly Stadium||25,203||Dahlberg Arena||7,321|
|Montana State||Bobcat Stadium||20,767||Worthington Arena||7,250|
|Northern Arizona||Walkup Skydome||10,000||Walkup Skydome||7,000|
|Northern Colorado||Nottingham Field||8,533||Bank of Colorado Arena||2,992|
|Portland State||Hillsboro Stadium||7,600||Viking Pavilion||3,094|
|Sacramento State||Hornet Stadium||21,195||Colberg Court||1,012|
|Southern Utah||Eccles Coliseum||8,500||America First Event Center||5,300|
|UC Davis||Aggie Stadium||10,367||Football-only member|
|Weber State||Stewart Stadium||17,500||Dee Events Center||11,500|
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|School||Rival 1||Rival 2|
|UC Davis||Cal Poly||Sacramento State|
|Cal Poly||UC Davis||Sacramento State|
|Eastern Washington||Idaho||Portland State|
|Idaho State||Weber State||Portland State|
|Montana State||Montana||North Dakota|
|North Dakota||Montana State||Northern Colorado|
|Northern Arizona||Southern Utah||Northern Colorado|
|Northern Colorado||North Dakota||Northern Arizona|
|Portland State||Eastern Washington||Idaho State|
|Sacramento State||UC Davis||Cal Poly|
|Southern Utah||Northern Arizona||Weber State|
|Weber State||Idaho State||Southern Utah|
|Cal Poly||UC Davis||1939||Battle for the Golden Horseshoe||UC Davis||UC Davis leads 20–17–2|
|Eastern Washington||Montana||1938||EWU-UM Governor's Cup||Montana||Montana leads 27–15–1|
|Eastern Washington||Portland State||1968||Dam Cup||Eastern Washington||Portland State leads 20–17–1|
|Idaho||Idaho State||1916||Battle of the Domes||Idaho State||Idaho leads 28–12|
|Idaho||Montana||1903||Little Brown Stein||Montana||Idaho leads 55–27–2|
|Montana||Montana State||1897||Brawl of the Wild||Montana State||Montana leads 71–38–5|
|UC Davis||Sacramento State||1954||Causeway Classic||UC Davis||UC Davis leads 39–18|
|Southern Utah||Northern Arizona||1983||Grand Canyon Rivalry||Northern Arizona||Northern Arizona leads 13-9|
|Southern Utah||Weber State||1984||Beehive Bowl||Weber State||Weber State leads 16–7|
|Idaho||Boise State||1971||Governor's Cup||Boise State||Boise State leads 22–17-1||Last competed for in 2010|
|Idaho||Washington State||1894||Battle of the Palouse||Washington State||Washington State leads 72-16-3||Last played in 2016|
|1964||Montana State||no tournament||—|
|1966||Weber State, Gonzaga||—|
|1967||Gonzaga, Montana State||—|
|1969||Weber State||West||1||Round of 16|
|1972||Weber State||West||1||Round of 16|
|1974||Idaho State (playoff over Montana)||West||0|
|1975||Montana||West||1||Round of 16|
|1976||Weber State, Boise State, Idaho State||Boise State||West||0|
|1977||Idaho State||Idaho State||West||2||Round of 8|
|1979||Weber State||Weber State||7||Midwest||1||Round of 32|
|1980||Weber State||Weber State||7||West||0|
|1982||Idaho||Idaho||3||West||1||Round of 16|
|1983||Nevada, Weber State||Weber State||9||West||0|
|1986||Northern Arizona, Montana||Montana State||16||West||0|
|1987||Montana State||Idaho State||16||West||0|
|1988||Boise State||Boise State||14||West||0|
|1994||Weber State, Idaho State||Boise State||14||West||0|
|1995||Weber State, Montana||Weber State||14||Southeast||1||Round of 32|
|1996||Montana State||Montana State||13||West||0|
|1998||Northern Arizona||No. Arizona||15||West||0|
|1999||Weber State||Weber State||14||West||1||Round of 32|
|2000||Montana, Eastern Washington||No. Arizona||15||West||0|
|2003||Weber State||Weber State||12||Midwest||0|
|2004||Eastern Washington||E. Washington||15||East||0|
|2006||Northern Arizona||Montana||12||Midwest||1||Round of 32|
|2007||Weber State, Northern Arizona||Weber State||15||West||0|
|2008||Portland State||Portland State||16||Midwest||0|
|2009||Weber State||Portland State||13||East||0|
|2011||Northern Colorado||No. Colorado||15||West||0|
|2014||Weber State||Weber State||16||West||0|
|2016||Weber State||Weber State||15||East||0|
|2017||North Dakota||North Dakota||15||West||0|
Since 1968, the Big Sky champion has received a berth in NCAA Tournament; the conference tournament winner has been the representative since its introduction in 1976.
The best finish by a Big Sky team came in 1977, when the Idaho State Bengals of Jim Killingsworth advanced to the Elite Eight, with a one-point upset of UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen in Provo, Utah. Two days later, the Bengals led UNLV by a point at halftime, but lost by seventeen and finished at 25–5.
Seeding was introduced in 1979 when it expanded to forty teams, and the highest seed granted a Big Sky team was in 1982: ranked eighth in the final polls with a 26–2 record, the Idaho Vandals under Don Monson were seeded third in the West regional. After a first round bye, they beat Lute Olson's Iowa Hawkeyes in nearby Pullman in overtime, but lost to second-seeded (and fourth-ranked) Oregon State in the regional semifinals (Sweet Sixteen), also played in Provo. (Idaho had defeated OSU by 22 points in December in the Far West Classic at Portland.)
Other Big Sky teams that advanced to regional semifinals (Sweet Sixteen) include the Weber State Wildcats in 1969 and 1972, when the total field was 25 teams, and the Montana Grizzlies under Jud Heathcote in the 32-team field in 1975. The Griz fell to UCLA by just three points, who went on to win another title in John Wooden's final year as head coach. (A year later, Heathcote was hired at Michigan State with Monson as an assistant for the first two years; in his third season, the Spartans won the national title in 1979.)
Since 1982, only three teams from the Big Sky have advanced within the NCAA tournament, and none past the round of 32. Weber State won in 1995 and 1999, coached by Ron Abegglen, and Montana in 2006, led by alumnus Larry Krystkowiak. Prior to Idaho in 1982, the Big Sky had been seeded seventh (Weber State, 1979 & 1980; and Idaho, 1981); the highest seed for the conference since 1982 is ninth (Weber State, 1983), and the highest since expanding to 64 teams in 1985 is twelfth (Weber State in 2003; Montana in 2006).
Through 2018, the Big Sky has yet to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The first NIT appearance for the conference was Idaho in 1983; two Big Sky teams advanced to the NIT's round of 16: Weber State (1984) and Boise State (1987).
|Season||Tournament Champion||Tournament Runner-Up|
|1999||CS Northridge||Portland State|
|2002||Weber State||Montana State|
|2003||Weber State||Montana State|
|2006||Northern Arizona||Weber State|
|2007||Idaho State||Northern Arizona|
|2010||Portland State||Montana State|
|2012||Idaho State||Northern Colorado|
|2017||Montana State||Montana State|
|2018||Northern Colorado||Northern Colorado|
|2019||Portland State||Eastern Washington|
Season, conference record,and champion
^ - winner of head-to-head matchup(s) in conference game(s) during the regular season. ^^ - vacated due to NCAA violations
|School||member years||total titles||Last won|
|Cal State Northridge||1996–2001||0|
This list goes through the 2013 season.
|Boise State Broncos (1970–1996)||Cal State Northridge Matadors (1996–2001)||Eastern Washington Eagles (1987– )||Gonzaga Bulldogs (1963–1979)||Idaho State Bengals (1963– )||Montana State Bobcats (1963– )||Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (1970– )||Portland State Vikings (1996– )||Sacramento State Hornets (1996– )||Idaho Vandals (1963–1996)||Nevada Wolf Pack (1979–1992)||Northern Colorado Bears (2006– )||Montana Grizzlies (1963– )||Weber State Wildcats (1963– )|
|Women's Basketball (RS/Tourn)||1/0||1/1||1/1||–||3/3||3/1||1/1||1/1||–||1/1||–||1/0||21/20||2/2|
|Men's Cross Country||2||–||–||–||5||2||18||–||–||2||3||–||8||7|
|Women's Cross Country||–||–||–||–||–||4||15||–||–||1||–||–||2||4|
|Men's Indoor Track and Field||2||–||–||–||5||–||12||–||2||1||1||–||–||5|
|Women's Indoor Track and Field||6||3||–||–||1||1||7||–||2||1||–||–||1||4|
|Men's Outdoor Track and Field||1||–||–||–||12||1||15||–||–||4||2||–||1||9|
|Women's Outdoor Track and Field||6||3||–||–||1||1||7||–||3||1||–||–||1||5|
|Men's Swimming (1963–74)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||2||–||–||8||–|
|Men's Skiing (1963–74)||1||–||–||–||–||4||–||–||–||2||–||–||3||–|
The Little Brown Stein is a rivalry trophy awarded to the winner of the college football game between the University of Idaho Vandals and University of Montana Grizzlies. The trophy is, as the name implies, a large stein mug with the results of all the games between the two painted on.
The Boise State Broncos are the athletic teams that represent Boise State University and compete in the Mountain West Conference (MWC), a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference. The Broncos have a successful athletic program overall, winning the WAC commissioner's cup for the 2005–06 and 2009–10 years. Boise State joined the MWC in 2011.
The Idaho State Bengals are the varsity athletic teams representing Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho in intercollegiate athletics. The university sponsors thirteen teams including men and women's basketball, cross country, tennis, and track and field; women's-only golf, soccer, softball, and volleyball; and men's-only football. The Bengals compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level and are currently a member institution of the Big Sky Conference. The Bengals' in-state athletic rivals are the Boise State University Broncos and the University of Idaho Vandals.
The Idaho State Bengals football program represents Idaho State University in college football and plays its home games at Holt Arena, an indoor facility on campus in Pocatello, Idaho. Idaho State is a charter member of the Big Sky Conference in NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Through the 2018 season, the Bengals have an all-time record of 477–525–20 (.477).
The 1994 Boise State Broncos football team represented Boise State University in the 1994 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The Broncos were led by second-year head coach Pokey Allen.
The Big Sky Conference Player of the Year Award, officially known as the Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player Award, is an annual basketball award given to the Big Sky Conference's most outstanding player. The award was first given following the 1978–79 season. Only one player, Larry Krystkowiak of Montana, has won the award three times (1984–1986). Three others have been two-time winners: Orlando Lightfoot of Idaho and Harold Arceneaux and Damian Lillard of Weber State.
The 1980 Boise State Broncos football team represented Boise State University in the 1980 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. They were led by fifth-year head coach Jim Criner and the "Four Horseman" senior backfield: quarterback Joe Aliotti, fullback David Hughes, halfback Cedric Minter, with halfback Terry Zahner in reserve.
The 1982 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1982 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals, led by first-year head coach Dennis Erickson, were members of the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
The 1984 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1984 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals, led by third-year head coach Dennis Erickson, were members of the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
The 1971 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1971 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals, led by second-year head coach Don Robbins, were members of the Big Sky Conference and played the final three of their five home games at the new Idaho Stadium, an outdoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
The 1976 Big Sky Conference Men's Basketball Tournament was held March 5–6 at the Wildcat Gym at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. This was the first edition of the tournament.
The 1972 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1972 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals were led by third-year head coach Don Robbins and were members of the Big Sky Conference. They played their home games at new Idaho Stadium, an unlit outdoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
The 1990 Boise State Broncos football team represented Boise State University in the 1990 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference and played their home games on campus at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Led by fourth-year head coach Skip Hall, Boise State finished the season 10–4 overall and 6–2 in conference.
The 1988 Boise State Broncos football team represented Boise State University in the 1988 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Led by second-year head coach Skip Hall, Boise State finished the season 8–4 overall and 5–3in conference.
The 1977 Boise State Broncos football team represented Boise State University in the 1977 NCAA Division II football season. The Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference and played their home games on campus at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Led by second-year head coach Jim Criner, the Broncos were 9–2 overall and 6–0 in conference to win the Big Sky title, their fourth in five years.
The 1975–76 Idaho State Bengals men's basketball team represented Idaho State University during the 1975–76 NCAA Division I men's basketball season.
The 1975–76 Weber State Wildcats men's basketball team represented Weber State College during the 1975–76 NCAA Division I basketball season. Members of the Big Sky Conference, the Wildcats were led by first-year head coach Neil McCarthy and played their home games on campus at Wildcat Gym in Ogden, Utah. They were 20–10 overall in the regular season and 9–5 in conference play.
The 1977–78 Montana Grizzlies basketball team represented the University of Montana during the 1977–78 NCAA Division I basketball season. Charter members of the Big Sky Conference, the Grizzlies were led by second-year head coach Jim Brandenburg and played their home games on campus at Adams Field House in Missoula, Montana.
Stadium Capacity: 8,533