With the addition of the University of Idaho, the athletic directors of the Big Sky Conference had much to discuss earlier this month when they met for their annual spring meeting. The Vandals will join the conference in every sport besides football effective July 1.
With the addition of another university, many things needed to be discussed that varied from scheduling in specific sports to how conference championships would be handled. One of the main things was the possibility of the basketball conference championship being moved to a neutral location.
Jerry Bovee, the athletic director for Weber State University, went to Twitter to see what his followers and lovers of Wildcat basketball thought needed to be changed in the Big Sky.
“The future of men’s basketball was a big part of the discussion we had up there,” said Bovee. “The conference tourney is going to expand to eight teams, which means that no teams are going to get a bye. The coaches are looking at different models that may be in place in the future.”
The discussion to move the conference tournament was not only going on between those at the meeting but also those fans on social media. Some felt that it would only be fair to have a neutral court while others felt the best team deserved to play at home.
Randy Rahe, reigning Big Sky men’s basketball Coach of the Year, said the team benefited from hosting the tournament this past season, as they beat the University of North Dakota on their way to the NCAA tournament.
“I have mixed emotions about moving the tournament,” said Rahe. “I guess you could say that I am selfish and want to play at home if we win the conference. I want to support the conference as well. I feel the best team should have a chance to host the tournament.”
Rahe has been on both the winning and losing ends of the conference tournament. Before winning this past season, the Wildcats lost back-to-back years to the University of Montana Grizzlies, who hosted the tournament. He feels that teams that host the tournament deserve the privilege to have that extra support.
“I have always felt that best team in the conference is the one who wins the regular season title,” said Rahe. “Because they went on the road and got important wins and were able to protect their home court. If people think its unfair, then go and win the league. Don’t finish in the middle of the pack and complain.”
Bovee said the current system has benefited the Wildcats in the past and feels that the crowd gives the team a great advantage. A predetermined site may lead to a better following from other schools and from the parents of the student athletes.
“If I am looking through the eyes of Weber State, I like the concept the way it is because we have been able to host it,” said Bovee. “Having that home-court advantage is a big deal and the student athletes want that. But if I look through the eyes of the Big Sky I can see some advantages as well. You can run a better tournament and more parents would be able to attend the games. “
For the coming season, the tournament will be held at the home of the regular season champion. Whether it be the Wildcats or one of the other 11 teams, the best team will have a chance to host and clinch a place in the field of 68.