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Several FCS schools not looking to make FBS jump
While some of the biggest conferences in Division 1 athletics have made changes in membership of late, some prominent Division 1-AA schools aren’t looking to move anytime soon.
Illinois State University, North Dakota State University and Southern Illinois University have all said there is no interest in moving their football programs to the Football Bowl Subdivision at this time.
“It’s one of those things, traditionally, that filters down,” said SIU Athletics Director Mario Moccia. “The jump schools, the BCS schools, it’s kind of like a domino effect. I think most everyone’s waiting to see how it shakes out.”
Central Michigan Life reported last week the Mid-American Conference is open to expanding its membership, something the Big Ten and Pac-10 have pursued in recent weeks.
While MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher opted not to go into detail regarding the conference’s plans for membership, Central Michigan University President George Ross said the MAC would look at other Division 1 schools.
Southern Illinois is one of those programs. The Salukis’ football team finished the 2009 season 11-2 after losing in the Division 1 FCS quarterfinals to William & Mary.
But Moccia questions if a move to become a member of the FBS is right financially for the school and town of Carbondale, Ill. which has a population of 26,000.
“Everybody looks at Boise State, but there are examples of schools that haven’t been successful, like a North Texas or Western Kentucky,” he said. “We’re kind of in a rural area with a finite population. I think it’s great to have good seasons and get caught up in it, but you have to look at the population here and it’s contracting.
“Businesses aren’t coming; they’re leaving … you kind of have to be aware of the situation (around you).”
Illinois State, located in Normal, Ill. – a town of more than 50,000 – is another FCS school experiencing similar success with its athletic program.
The school earned the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy after winning five conference championships and finishing fifth or better in 16 of the 17 sports it participates in last season.
“That’s the thing, there really is no story,” said Todd Kober, ISU associate athletic director. “To my knowledge, there is no planned jump in the immediate future.”
Since taking the job in 2006, ISU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger has increased donations to the athletic department by 65 percent. He also introduced “The Redbird Renaissance,” a plan to renovate several athletic facilities on the ISU campus. In the proposal is a full renovation of the football stadium, including an increase in seating capacity from 15,000 to 24,000.
Zenger was gone for the week and unavailable for comment.
North Dakota State Athletic Director Gene Taylor also denied any plans for the Bison to leave the MVC for a FBS conference.
“I wouldn’t say never, but right now we’re committed to the FCS and Missouri Valley,” Taylor said. “We haven’t had any official talks.”
NDSU beat CMU 44-14 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in 2007 and finished the season 10-1 but haven’t had a winning season since.
Central Michigan Life