Sep 07

It’s official: Cal Poly, UC Davis to Big Sky

I’m getting ready to head over to the Cal Poly news conference in a few minutes. Follow me on twitter to get the latest updates while I’m there.

The move will indeed be football only. The Great West has said there is no definite timetable. UC Davis is saying it’s 2012.

Davis is reporting an entry fee of $150,000, and then a $10,000 dues payment on a yearly basis. They entry fee is supposedly going to pay over a three-year period. The Great West dues are currently around $9,000.

Related posts:

  1. It’s Cal Poly and UC Davis to…
  2. Hawaii makes it official; Big West has Fresno State to thank
  3. Looking ahead to the weekend
  4. Poly’s big mystery announcement
  5. Is the WAC’s door opening up for Cal Poly?


  1. Jacob Jackson

    Great reporting Scroggin, thanks for keeping us posted. So, does this mean that the Big Sky will play a 10-game conference schedule for football?

    That wouldn’t be bad at all – it would guarantee everyone five home games a year, AND still give each team the flexibility and opportunity to fill out their schedule in one of two ideal ways:

    1. pursue $300,000 payouts for road games against good I-A teams.

    2. Schedule a very winnable home game against a regional Division II team (Humboldt State, Western Oregon, etc.).

  2. Jacob Jackson

    Looking for feedback:

    Is this move an indicator that Montana and Montana State are already planning to move up to I-A, and the Big Sky is trying to proactively fill the void before it even opens?

    That question, and my first one above about a 10-game schedule, are two that I’d love for you to ask if you get a chance at the news conference, please. :)

  3. Jacob Jackson

    Okay, my last thoughts here:

    1. The press release from the Big Sky comissioner states that the league may explore adding a 12th member, allowing it to break into two divisions and have a championship game.

    The only two I-AA football programs in the “Western” region of the United States who aren’t in the 11-team Big Sky conference are Southern Utah and University of San Diego.

    USD is a non-scholarship program, and they play football in a non-scholarship league, so adding them makes no sense.

    That would seem to suggest that Southern Utah is a candidate to be added to the conference as well as a 12th member.

    2. The Big Sky had to ammend its own rules to allow CP-UC Davis in. There was a time when they insisted that all members had to play all Big Sky-sponsored sports within the Big Sky. Now they’ve bent that rule. Does that open the door for Sacramento State to play football only in the Big Sky, and join the Big West conference for all other sports, dramatically lowering their travel budget?

    If so, the Big West could expand all the way out to 12 teams some day, adding Sac State, Bakersfield, and Division II perennial powerhouse UCSD, with six sets of nice travel partners.

  4. Jacob Jackson

    The other incredible wild card for that 12th slot in the Big Sky in a few years?

    SJSU, if doesn’t meet attendance requirements for I-A and finds itself alone with Hawaii in the WAC in two years.

  5. stang


  6. Joshua D. Scroggin

    Jacob —

    Thanks for all the input. I promise to address every one of your points on a blog very shortly.

    You seem to be very in tune with the entire situation. I’ve only got to get a few deadline stories out of the way, and I’ll be glad to let you know what I’ve learned.

    - JD

  7. Matt

    At some point, could you provide some research into the finances of the football program? Is the football program financially self-sustaining? The Cal Poly leadership talks about how financially, now is not the time to take the program to FBS — but how are schools like Idaho, and all the schools in the Sun Belt making it work (FAU, FIU, North Texas)? Perhaps if Cal Poly upgraded to FBS, they might actually do better financially? I agree that the move to Big Sky may make scheduling easier, but each year, several of the games are already against Big Sky schools, and without the guaranteed payout FBS games, the team is even less financially viable (I hope Cone keeps trying to get at least 2 FBS games per year). Overall, I am extremely disappointed by the move — its a lateral move, not a move up. The FCS-level has only a small niche for fan support. There’s no better way to increase University recognition, visibility, and alumni support than to play at the only truly relevant level of college football – FBS. On a separate note, I have emailed Cone several times with questions about financing and financing suggestions — she never responds. I question whether Cone shares the long term vision to get Poly where it could and should be. It will be interesting to see now if Sac State steps up to courting with the WAC — it would be shame to see Cal Poly playing second fiddle to Sac State.

  8. Jacob Jackson

    Matt, I second your point about being interested in learning some of the financial figures of Cal Poly football expenditures/profitability, if Josh is able to locate them. He may have even reported on them before; I’m not a local anymore so I wouldn’t have seen coverage on it in the Tribune if he had reported on it.

    But I disagree with you on the “lateral move” point in regards to CP switching football conferences. The Big Sky announcements might be a let-down for people who were thirsty for the WAC, but the Big Sky is a hell of a lot better than the Great West. The Great West was seemingly in danger of folding, losing and adding a few teams every year. Literally no teams in the Great West want to be there – all of them used the conference as a steppingstone. The Big Sky is very stable, desirable, offers a guaranteed playoff berth to the winner, and guarantees Poly 4-5 home games every year, even before scheduling a D-II team.

    That’s a huge step up.

    As for WAC/I-A profitability…think about how much the travel budget for every Cal Poly sport would have to expand if every other sport had to take annual trips to Hawaii, La Tech, Idaho, Utah State, and New Mexico State, rather than the in-state bus trips they all currently take.

  9. Matt

    To address the point about all the other sports playing in the WAC, I would assume the WAC might be open to having a football only member, as they were open to having BYU join as a non-football member. Also, I think it needs to be re-emphasized that while making the move to FBS may cost money initially, I think it may prove more profitable than under the current structure, especially taking WAC profit sharing and TV revenue into account. Also, a lot of people talk about attendance and stadium renovation being a barrier — I think it would be extremely instructive to study Florida International, Florida Atlantic, and Idaho (all have extremely small, and in the case of FIU/FAU very unimpressive stadiums) as models for how Cal Poly could move up. Here is where I have the biggest problem with this whole deal. It seems to me that Allison Cone has ZERO interest in having the football team move up to FBS. She is regularly quoted as saying “now is not the time,” money is the issue, and on and on…when is the time? I’d like to know what the are benchmarks for when that time might be, and I would like her to back up her excuses with actual financial numbers. Obviously she does not want the team playing in FBS — maybe it requires more effort on her part (and maybe Cal Poly should search for someone who is willing to put in the effort). Maybe I am out of touch, and I am the exception in my desire to see Poly at the FBS level rather than the norm, but I seriously question Cal Poly’s AD leadership when it comes to developing the department and the Cal Poly brand.

  10. Musty

    Matt, leaving aside the issue of whether moving up to the WAC is the right thing, the simple fact is that Cal Poly simply doesn’t have the financial resources at this time to make such a move feasible. Before any FBS move could take place, renovations would have to be made to Spanos Stadium, which Cone has publicly been quoted as saying would cost anywhere from $9-$30 million dollars. Additionally, Poly’s athletic budget is about $5 million dollars less than the average WAC athletic budget. Josh did not use this quote, but I’m pretty sure that Pres. Glidden said during TBA that any move up would require something like a $25 million dollar endowment. I’m sure if someone stepped forward with $50 million dollars for an FBS move, Poly would at least consider it; but the fact is that, at this point in the program progression, those funds simply aren’t out there.

  11. Joshua D. Scroggin

    Musty, we did use that quote. It was on the A1 story that can be read here:


  12. Musty

    Oh shoot. Sorry Josh. Totally blanked on that one.

  13. Jacob Jackson

    Great info and follow-ups, thanks guys. I am loving this blog as a way to get my out-of-town CP fix.

  14. So Cal Fan

    Great stuff guys! Certainly good to be talking about this….more details would be nice, but it may be difficult to extract actual pecuniary numbers to make an independent assessment of the feasibility of moving to FBS. Certainly based on what can be readily seen, significant money is not present.

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