The Big Sky Conference announced they will be adding two games to both the men’s and women’s basketball conference schedules starting in the 2018-19 season, allowing all teams in the conference to play a home and away series against each other.

The news was released in a tweet from Big Sky Basketball’s official Twitter account on May 29th.

“The Athletic administrators of the Big Sky Conference determined in March that the league would move to a 20-game schedule for men’s and women’s basketball, with Conference play set to begin on December 29, 2018. This action was approved by the President’s Council.”

A deciding factor in changing the basketball schedule was due to the departure of North Dakota from the Conference. They will be joining the Summit League Conference beginning next year.

As the size of the league has changed over the years, so too has the Big Sky schedule. From 2010-2014, only nine teams existed in the conference, allowing teams to play a round-robin schedule with every team playing the other once at home and once away.

Realignment during the summer of 2014, including Idaho State rejoining, increased the conference to 12 teams. For the past four years, each team randomly played seven teams twice during the season and played the other four just once.

Weber State University’s men’s basketball team only played the Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State Bobcats once this past season. Montana had a 16-2 conference record, so a match against such a team boosts their opponent’s overall RPI.

The round-robin system ensuring every team plays one another twice guarantees every team faces the best competition in the conference.

In an interview with Brett Hein of the Standard Examiner, Big Sky deputy commissioner Ron Loghry said the initial plan was to wait until 2019-2020 to alter the schedule so dramatically. However, because of mathematical problems, it was decided to move the schedule change to the upcoming season.

“We literally got to the 14 version of a schedule before we just said, ‘this is a mess,’” Loghry said. “We showed it to our administrators, and, right now, they’re going back to their coaches saying ‘How much would it infringe on you if we move it to 20 immediately?’”

Weber State assistant coach Eric Duft said the Big Sky had talked to each school about the possibility of changes occurring earlier in the year, so teams weren’t entirely caught off guard. He also spoke to the benefits of this schedule change and how it will assist with the challenge of scheduling out-of-conference games.

“Getting non-conference scheduling at our level is very difficult, and this eliminated two of those non-conference games that you have to schedule and also gives you another guaranteed home game, so we thought it was a good idea for the conference to make the change.”

Duft also expressed his gratitude for Weber State fans and spoke about the benefits the change will have.

“I think this is good for the fans and the community because this guarantees that you will get another home game added to the schedule. When scheduling those non-conference games in the past, it has been difficult to get additional home games verses quality opponents, so we are typically forced to go on the road for those games.”

Over the past three seasons, the men’s team is a combined 35-7 at home, with a conference record of 40-14. Last season, the women’s basketball team went 14-2 at home, with a 12-6 conference record.

This schedule change should only add to the success both programs have had in the past at home and in conference play.

The move was approved by the league’s athletic administrators and President’s Council in March, and conference play is set to begin December 29, but at this time, an official schedule has not been released.

“The Conference staff has been working with a scheduling consultant to develop a schedule for men’s and women’s basketball for a release at the earliest date possible.”

The Signpost will release updates as official schedules are released for the 2018-19 season.

The Big Sky Conference will move their Conference tournament from Reno, Nevada, to Boise, Idaho, in March 2019.

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