One season was all it took for Big Sky Conference officials to determine back-to-back basketball game nights aren't feasible.
University presidents on Tuesday approved a return to a Thursday-Saturday scheduling format during the final day of the league's spring meetings in Salt Lake City. It was one of two big changes along with the lifting of travel party limitations on bus trips.
Officials reportedly were also going to talk about changing the men's conference basketball tournament format to Wednesday-Thursday-Friday at one site. But there was no formal discussion since the Big Sky must first determine if the ESPN Network can make room for the title game in its scheduling.
"If they can't we'll have to stick with the current format of Saturday-Tuesday-Wednesday," said Jon Kasper, Big Sky assistant commissioner for media relations. "Hopefully they will be getting back to us soon."
Kasper said the Big Sky is going back to a men's and women's basketball scheduling format similar to the one used in 2006-07 when Northern Colorado joined the league. Nine weekends will feature Thursday-Saturday games, but there will be three Monday games. Depending on whether a contract is renewed with Altitude, there may also be Sunday games again.
"(Friday-Saturday scheduling) created some problems," Kasper said of a move that was designed to cut costs. "We ended up having to move a lot of the games because of indoor track meets on Fridays in Bozeman.
"It was just too many inequitable issues. There were cases where some teams didn't play any back-to-back road games, some teams had to play almost all back-to-back."
Kasper noted that one Big Sky basketball weekend has been opened up for Bracket Buster games. And in the future teams will be making only one trip to Montana during the regular season to limit travel expenses.
Last spring the Big Sky also implemented a cost-cutting change that limited basketball travel parties to 17, including players, coaches and trainers. Montana Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig was among those that came out against the idea, noting that 15 scholarships are allowed for women's teams (men's programs allow 13).
Selvig suggested the rule had serious implications and may affect recruiting.
"Basically that's been lifted for bus trips but remains for air travel," Kasper said. "Now if a coach like Selvig wants to take all his redshirts to Bozeman, he can do that."
The change falls short of what Selvig wants, which is elimination of the 2009-10 travel party rule.
"It just doesn't make any sense," he said.
Tuesday marked University of Montana President George M. Dennison's final Big Sky meeting. He was presented with a crystal vase for his service.