Idaho’s decided to live in its own private Idaho.
Idaho will become what is believed to be the first program in history to decide to move down from FBS to the lower-division FCS beginning in 2018, CBS Sports was told Wednesday afternoon by a source close to the situation.
The move comes after the Sun Belt Conference exercised an option on March 1 to drop Idaho and New Mexico State from the league and go with a 10-team conference beginning in 2018.
Idaho then had to make a choice where it wanted to continue playing football. The only FBS option was to compete as an independent where it had previously spent a season in 2013. Without a conference tie, that option is not financially viable for the school.
A source told CBS Sports on Wednesday that the deal is done: Idaho will begin playing football in the Big Sky Conference in 2018.
If you want a clear sign that this move was overdue, try this out:
While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding — playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.
While that’s not as costly as some student subsidies in other conferences, it’s enough at Idaho. The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall. [Emphasis added.]
So even moving down a division doesn’t stop the money bleed. And worse for the program, moving down to the FCS level means lower payments for offering itself up as a sacrificial cupcake to P5 schools. Still, and considering the ego that has to be swallowed in deciding to retreat like this, you have to figure the economics were extremely compelling. In this day and age, that’s hardly surprising.
Idaho may be the first to relegate itself, but I doubt it’ll be the last.