Cal Poly, UC Davis joining Big Sky Conference |

Cal Poly, UC Davis joining Big Sky Conference

Amy Beth Hanson, The Associated Press

The football teams from Cal Poly and UC Davis are joining the Big Sky Conference, league commissioner Doug Fullerton said Tuesday.

The universities accepted the invitations to join the conference as football-only schools late last week after league presidents approved an exception to league rules that require all member schools to take part in the same 14 sports.

Cal Poly and UC Davis are Football Championship Subdivision members that compete in the Great West Conference but participate in the Big West Conference for the majority of their sports.

A timeline for the move has not been set, but the league will work the schools into a conference schedule as soon as possible, Fullerton said. Many of the Big Sky Conference teams have their 2011 schedules nearly complete and Cal Poly and UC Davis must officially withdraw from the Great West Conference, which also includes football teams from North Dakota, South Dakota and Southern Utah.

“The Big Sky is recognized as one of the top Football Championship Subdivision conferences in the nation,” Fullerton said in a statement. “The addition of two great institutions like Cal Poly and UC Davis gives us more depth to compete for additional playoff berths and enhances our profile throughout California.

“They will benefit from us in having access to an automatic playoff bid and a full slate of conference games,” he added.

The athletic directors at both schools said they are happy with the move.

“Our goal all along has been to find stability for our football program, and the Big Sky Conference gives us exactly what we needed,” said Cal Poly athletic director Alison Cone.

UC Davis athletic director Greg Warzecka called the move exciting.

“Our fans will not only be able to watch some great teams come to Aggie Stadium, but they will have a much better opportunity to travel to road games.”

Tuesday’s moves are the first part of an expansion that could lead to a 12-team Big Sky football conference with two six-team divisions, Fullerton said.

Fans can get a sneak preview of the new conference members this weekend. Cal Poly hosts top-ranked Montana on Saturday night while UC Davis hosts Portland State.

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