Big Sky to explore new structure for basketball tournaments

2014-06-04T15:20:00Z 2014-06-06T00:06:03Z Big Sky to explore new structure for basketball tournamentsGazette News Services The Billings Gazette
June 04, 2014 3:20 pm  • 

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Big Sky Conference will review its men’s and women’s basketball championship model and explore an alternate structure, which could include a predetermined location, the league announced Wednesday at the conclusion of its spring meetings.

“Over the next several months, school administrators and conference staff will diligently work to assess which format makes the most logistical and financial sense, and that could be a predetermined location,’’ said league commissioner Doug Fullerton.

“This is a major philosophical change for the conference, and there are many issues to study before we take a formal proposal back to the presidents.’’

Historically, the regular-season champion on the men’s and women’s side has hosted the conference championship.

“While our current format often leads to strong attendance and does a great job of protecting our top team, we also realize it has become problematic for many reasons,’’ Fullerton said. “Our school administrators and coaches have raised valid concerns, including travel costs, travel logistics, student-athlete welfare, and fan experience.

“We need to continue to have discussions regarding how many teams will qualify, and if we move to a predetermined site, where that will be and if the location will be the same for the men and the women.”

Any potential changes would not go into effect until March of 2016.

The 2015 Big Sky Conference men’s and women’s championships will be held at the site of the regular-season champions on March 12-14. With the return of Idaho in 2014 as a Big Sky member in all sports but football, the league will have 12 men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The 2015 tournaments will feature eight teams with no byes. Four quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, followed by two semifinal games on Friday, and the championship game on Saturday.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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