ISBOE approves Vandals motion to pursue idependent status and Big Sky

ISBOE approves Vandals motion to pursue idependent status and Big Sky »Play Video
BOISE, ID - The Idaho State Board of Education voted on Friday for the University of Idaho to pursue independent football status in the FBS and to negotiate and accept an invitation to the Big Sky Conference

The board voted on the Vandals motion 5-1 with the only no-vote coming from state board President Ken Edmunds. Edmunds stated that he wanted the Vandals to return to the board should independent football status not work out and they need to move the program to the Big Sky.

Before the vote took place, board member Milford Terrell had a strong message for Idaho athletic Director Rob Spear.

“You have an awesome responsibility,” said Terrell. “You’re going to need your fans to back you up, you’re going to need your alumni to back you up, you’re going to need your students to back you up to support this issue or it will fail. I also want that to be known that this going to take full action from everybody from the U of I to make this work in my estimation.”

In a press conference held Friday afternoon in the Kibbie Dome, Spear responded to Terrell’s comments by saying that he agreed with what was said.

“The message was well received,” said Spear. “Our fans need to step up, our students need to step up, and our faculty. Everybody needs to get behind the institution and he laid it out.”

While the point was stressed several times that no official decision has been made, there is no doubt this is a huge step towards the future for not only the athletic department, but for the university as a whole.

Idaho President Duane Nellis acknowledged that fact and said he is excited for the next step.

“Well I’m excited that we’ve been able to work through the independent approval through the State Board of Education,” said Nellis.” I’m excited about the quality of games that Rob has been in discussion with relative to other universities playing us in football. Certainly we are excited about opening up dialogue with the Big Sky Conference and just see where that leads.”

There is no denying that all of this is being done for the Vandals to remain at the FBS level when it comes to football. There is also no denying that scheduling will be the toughest challenge that Idaho will face if they do officially go the independent route.

When it comes to scheduling to remain at the FBS level, the Vandals need nine games, more than half of them against FBS level teams. Five must be played in the Kibbie Dome, four of those games being against FBS opponents.

It appears that ESPN is on board to assist with scheduling. Spear said with independent status, both sides would benefit.

“The beauty of being independent now, we can play a mid-week game,” said Spear. “We can accommodate some inventory for them at certain times. We need to explore that a little further, but we’re not at the mercy of a conference telling us when and where we’re going to play. So we do have a little bit more flexibility.”

So far in 2013 the Vandals have games against Wyoming, Mississippi, Northern Illinois, and Washington State that are officially signed. There is one more game contract that is signed but that opponent has not been announced.

A home-and-home series with New Mexico State is expected as the Aggies may join the independent ranks in the near future. Spear went on to say there are three more contracts pending and two in negotiations.

The University hopes to be able to announce a full 2013 schedule within the next three to four weeks.