|Big Sky Conference|
|Established||July 1, 1963|
|Members||11 full–time (10 in 2022)|
|Region||Western United States|
|Commissioner||Tom Wistrcill (since November 16, 2018)|
The Big Sky Conference (BSC) 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.
Initially conceived for basketball, the Big Sky was founded 57 years ago on July 1, 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.
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).
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 33 years ago in 1988, moving from the women's–only Mountain West Athletic Conference (1982–88).
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. It is the only Division I all-sports conference that does not sponsor baseball.
|Eastern Washington University||Cheney, Washington||1882||1987||12,607||Eagles|
|University of Idaho||Moscow, Idaho||1889||1963, 2014[a 1]||11,814||Vandals|
|Idaho State University||Pocatello, Idaho||1901||1963||12,805||Bengals|
|University of Montana||Missoula, Montana||1893||1963||10,104||Grizzlies[a 2]|
|Montana State University||Bozeman, Montana||1893||1963||16,766||Bobcats|
|Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff, Arizona||1899||1970||22,791||Lumberjacks|
|University of Northern Colorado||Greeley, Colorado||1889||2006||12,862||Bears|
|Portland State University||Portland, Oregon||1946||1996||27,285||Vikings|
|California State University, Sacramento||Sacramento, California||1947||1996||31,181||Hornets|
|Southern Utah University[a 3]||Cedar City, Utah||1897||2012||10,196||Thunderbirds|
|Weber State University||Ogden, Utah||1889||1963||27,465||Wildcats|
|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||21,812||$207,485,860||Mustangs||Big West||Football|
|University of California, Davis||Davis, California||1905||2012||Public||38,369||$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 members Assoc. members (football only) Full members (except football) Assoc. members (other sports) Other conference Other conference
NCAA Division I national championships as of 2021.
† Northern Arizona is the only Big Sky program to win D1 team national titles outside of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
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. 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 two years.
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. Of the eleven Big Sky baseball titles, four each went to Idaho and Gonzaga, and three to Weber State. 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 1975. Boise State and Idaho competed in the NorPac for six seasons, then discontinued baseball after the 1980 season.
In 2016, North Dakota announced in April that it was their last baseball season. Since then, only Northern Colorado and Sacramento State have competed in the sport, both as affiliate members in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Northern Colorado baseball will leave the WAC after the 2021 season for the Summit League.
Through the 1987 season, the conference sponsored wrestling. Boise State and Idaho State dominated in most years, winning ten and eight conference titles, respectively. BSU won seven consecutive from 1974 to 1980. Montana State and Weber State also had some good years; Montana won their only conference title in the last year Big Sky sponsored the sport.
Boise State continued its wrestling program as an afilliate member of the Pac-10 Conference.
|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[a]||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||Idaho Central Credit Union Arena[a]||4,200|
|Idaho State||Holt Arena||12,000||Reed Gym||3,040|
|Montana||Washington–Grizzly Stadium||25,203||Dahlberg Arena||7,321|
|Montana State||Bobcat Stadium||20,767||Brick Breeden Fieldhouse||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||Hornets Nest||1,012|
|Southern Utah||Eccles Coliseum||8,500||America First Event Center||5,300|
|UC Davis||UC Davis Health Stadium||10,367||Football-only member|
|Weber State||Stewart Stadium||17,500||Dee Events Center||11,500|
As of May 2019, these rivalries are protected.
|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||Northern Colorado|
|Northern Arizona||Southern Utah||Northern Colorado|
|Northern Colorado||Northern Arizona||Montana State|
|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 22–20–2|
|Eastern Washington||Montana||1938||EWU-UM Governor's Cup||Eastern Washington||Montana leads 27–17–1|
|Eastern Washington||Portland State||1968||Dam Cup||Eastern Washington||Tied 20–20–1|
|Idaho||Idaho State||1916||Battle of the Domes||Idaho State||Idaho leads 28–12|
|Idaho||Montana||1903||Little Brown Stein||Montana||Idaho leads 55–28–2|
|Montana||Montana State||1897||Brawl of the Wild||Montana State||Montana leads 72–40–5|
|UC Davis||Sacramento State||1954||Causeway Classic||Sacramento State||UC Davis leads 46–21|
|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 19–8|
|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|
|2015||Montana, Eastern Washington||E. Washington||13||South||0|
|2016||Weber State||Weber State||15||East||0|
|2017||North Dakota||North Dakota||15||West||0|
|2021||Southern Utah||E. Washington||14||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 2021, 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 2020 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||–|
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Stadium Capacity: 8,533