The Idaho State Board of Education will meet Friday at noon to discuss the University of Idaho’s athletic future. The move would allow Idaho to explore football independence as well as move their non-football sports into the Big Sky Conference.
Athletic director Rob Spear quickly put out a statement on Twitter after the Idaho Statesman broke the story to make sure everybody knows nothing is official.
“@Rob_Spear: SBOE will vote tomorrow on our request to only EXPLORE independent football and Big Sky membership…nothing official,” the tweet read.
Approval from the SBOE tomorrow would only be the first hurdle towards finalizing football independence for Idaho. Spear would still need to find five home games and schedule enough guaranteed money games to supplement revenue that Idaho would lose by being conference-less.
If independence is the course Idaho goes, it’s one that Spear doesn’t think Idaho will be on for more than two years.
Independence would allow Idaho to retain Division I Football Sub Division status while continuing to hold out for a conference solution. Spear believes that future re-alignment will allow Idaho to join a conference.
In the mean time, retaining FBS status will allow Idaho to acquire $1.5 million more in game payments than they would if they went down to the Big Sky, according to SBOE documents.
“By scheduling football as an unaffiliated and independent FBS institution, the university retains the ability to react to conference changes should an opportunity appear with an FBS football conference in the future,” the document said.
Currently, Idaho’s 2013 schedule consists of road games at Mississippi, Wyoming and Washington State, with Northern Illinois slated to visit the Kibbie Dome.