After losing membership in the Sunbelt Conference after the 2017 season, Idaho Vandals football will drop from FBS to FCS in an announcement from school president Chuck Staben on Thursday, according to a report from FootballScoop.com.
On March 1, the Sun Belt voted to revoke the football memberships of Idaho and New Mexico State beyond the current four-year agreement for both schools, leaving the Vandals in an uncertain situation once again. Faced with the choice of playing as an independent or becoming a full member of the Big Sky Conference in which every other Idaho sport competes, it appears that Staben and the athletic department chose the most obvious route.
Idaho was never quite an ideal fit in a conference that features schools from the south and recent deregulation of conference championship games combined with decreased guaranteed revenue for Group of Five conferences from $12 million to $10 million reduced the incentive for the Sunbelt to keep the under-performing schools in the conference.
So it appears that the Vandals will make the full transition to the Big Sky Conference in 2018 in a move that makes geographic sense for Idaho, but will have a significant impact on the football program's available scholarships (down to 63 from 85) and revenue (likely to go from approximately $2 million to $600,000). We'll have more details later.