Big Sky celebrates golden, silver anniversaries
2013-14 marks EWU men’s 27th, women’s 26 BSC season
After 50 years of competition, the Big Sky Conference will soon begin a year-long journey celebrating the league’s success both on and off the playing field by honoring 50 years of men’s athletics and 25 years of women’s athletics.
Eastern Washington University will join in the celebration as a long-time member of the Big Sky Conference for both men and women. The 2013-14 season will be the 27th for the Eagle men, and 26th for the women. Eastern’s women’s programs were inaugural members of the Mountain West Conference in the 1982-83 season, and that league eventually merged with the Big Sky in 1988-89.
The 50th anniversary will celebrate the all-time individuals, teams and moments in the Big Sky’s history, including the selection of the league’s Top 50 male student-athletes and the top 25 female student-athletes. Along with the lists, the league will unveil the most memorable moments for both men’s and women’s competition.
“We’ve been gearing up for this celebration for several years,’’ commissioner Doug Fullerton said. “Remembering and honoring our past student-athletes, teams, record-breaking performances and the coaches and administrators who guided them all along the way will be a lot of fun.”
The Division I Big Sky Conference officially celebrates its 50th birthday July 1, 2013. The league was established in 1963 by six charter members – the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Gonzaga University, the University of Montana, Montana State University and Weber State University.
The conference has gained and lost members over the years. In 1970 it added Boise State and Northern Arizona. Gonzaga left the league in 1979 and was replaced by Nevada. The conference grew to nine schools in 1987 with the addition of EWU.
In 1988-89, the Big Sky first began sponsoring women’s sports. The former Mountain West Conference existed from 1982-88, sponsoring championships for women’s sports at the same institutions the Big Sky had men’s programs.
In 1996 Boise State and Idaho departed while the conference added Portland State, Sacramento State and Cal State Northridge. The conference welcomed the University of North Dakota and Southern Utah University into the fold as full members on July 1, 2012. Cal Poly and UC Davis join the league as affiliate members in football, where the league competes at the Championship Subdivision level (formerly I-AA).
The additions of North Dakota and Southern Utah give the Big Sky 11 full institutions and 13 football members. Charter member Idaho will return most of its intercollegiate sports to the Big Sky July 1, 2014.