University of Idaho President Staben had some remarks about the football teams future in the Sun Belt, FBS, and the possible relegation down to FCS.
What stood out to me regarding the ramifications of the football team dropping down back to FCS:
Another difference is we would move from 85 scholarships at the FBS level to 63 scholarships at the FCS level. That would affect our football team and it would also affect the availability of other sports, primarily women’s sports, because we would probably decrease the overall scholarship number by gender, approximately the same.
Logic: by decreasing the men's scholarships, they would not have a need for another women's athletic sport to keep pace with Title IX. So, to save money, they would nix a women's sport. Most likely swimming.
As a point to be aware, they would not have to decrease the number of women's scholarships. They just would to save money. In the interview Staben said that independence and FCS is roughly the same monetary-wise. Curious if that is taking into account the money saved from having to pay a travel subsidy to the other Sun Belt schools (and traveling altogether). I would guess it is.
But the UI not working harder to keep the established women's sports around is a disappointing fall out from a would-be drop to the FCS (if the Sun Belt hammer were to drop). Seeing as how money, in Staben's own words, is usually not the primary driver of these athletic decisions, in most cases, how they could not/would not find a way to keep the status quo is quite frustrating.
Without going through the motions of trying to find actual stats I would venture to say that the women's swimming and diving team is probably more successful at their sport than the Vandals are at football (that and I would have to spend time researching Vandal athletics. Ew.) Punishing a team that probably does more with less funding is bad optics. Course most Olympic sports teams rarely make money. Probably closer to never really.
So where could the University of Idaho turn to for money? As it stands, Idaho football already plays body-bag games to pay the bills. I see no difference if they do the same games as an FCS team. Idaho State does them all the time. If they were to open with Alabama, or Auburn, or some other school of big dollars, they could bank that money. And save other dollars from the relatively close travel of the Big Sky. (Note: I am not throwing stones at Idaho in regards to the cutting of a woman's sport as I am aware that Boise State, if in the same position, would probably nix a sport as well.)
March 10th is rapidly approaching for the Vandals and the resulting Sun Belt conference decision will most likely a a future-shaping one for Idaho.