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Reports: Southern Utah could be set to leave Big Sky, join Western Athletic Conference

Reports: Southern Utah could be set to leave Big Sky, join Western Athletic Conference

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A Southern Utah running back is swarmed by Grizzlies during a 2018 football game. The Thunderbirds could be set to leave the Big Sky for the Western Athletic Conference.

MISSOULA — Southern Utah could soon be leaving the Big Sky Conference for the Western Athletic Conference, but nothing is for certain yet.

On Friday, Matt Brown, a former SB Nation editor and now the proponent of a Substack called Extra Points, a subscription-based blog and newsletter, said a source "familiar with the WAC's decision-making" revealed the new member would be Southern Utah.

Following this revelation, Chris Kwiecinski of the St. George Spectrum and Daily News, a newspaper that covers SUU, reported that the school hadn't yet received an official invitation.

"SUU has not received an official offer to join any other conference, although the discussion comes up from time to time," SUU President Scott Wyatt said in a statement to The Spectrum. "We would not consider changing conferences unless it presented enhanced opportunities for our Division I student-athletes and for our SUU community."

However, between Brown's reporting and a State of the University Address by Tarleton State president James Hurley, that statement may not be entirely true.

In the address, which was unearthed by the college football subreddit on and then also reported on by Brown, states the conference just voted on adding in a new member.

“Now we are adding new members, in fact, we just yesterday voted a new member on…it’s somewhat confidential, but you’ll see in the next week or two that they’ll make their announcement at their institution, and it’s a big deal. We’re really excited," says the transcription of Hurley's comments in Brown's article.

Tarleton State is a new member of the WAC along with Dixie State. The WAC currently doesn't have enough football-playing members to field a full Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conference. FCS rules require a conference to have at least six football-playing members in order to be eligible for the postseason.

Tarleton State and Dixie State both play football, as does New Mexico State. Currently, New Mexico State is an FBS independent, while Tarleton State and Dixie State are both FCS independents.

With Southern Utah, the Big Sky Conference currently has 13 football-playing members and 11 full members, one of which is SUU. Prior to joining the Big Sky in 2012, Southern Utah played football in the Great West Conference.

In 2012, North Dakota, now in the MVFC, also joined the Big Sky as a full member, and Cal Poly and UC Davis joined as football-only members. Idaho returned as a full member of the Big Sky in 2018 when its football team dropped down from the FBS to the FCS.

On Sept. 29, the Missoulian and reached out to Southern Utah sports information with an interview request with Southern Utah athletic director Debbie Corum.

After initially granting the request, SUU didn't respond after the Missoulian said the questions would revolve around Southern Utah's long-term commitment to the Big Sky.

When asked on Sept. 29, University of Montana athletic director Kent Haslam told the Missoulian and that a move away from the Big Sky by Southern Utah would be "news to me."

Jordan Hansen covers a bunch of stuff for the Missoulian and 406 Sports. Shout at him on Twitter @jordyhansen or shoot him an email at

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