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Northern Arizona AD: Fully leaving Big Sky for WAC 'not a consideration'

Northern Arizona AD: Fully leaving Big Sky for WAC 'not a consideration'

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Mike Marlow, NAU's vice president for intercollegiate athletics, speaks to a crowd of supporters in February. He says the Lumberjacks don't plan on following neighbor Southern Utah out of the Big Sky Conference. 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — As the Western Athletic Conference expands, having offered Big Sky school Southern Utah a spot in the conference, what about Northern Arizona?

Well, any speculation about the long-time Big Sky school joining the WAC fully was quickly squashed by Northern Arizona Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Marlow Friday.

When asked via email about joining the WAC in more sports than just swimming and diving — a sport that the Lumberjacks have dominated in, winning seven straight conference titles — Marlow was brief.

"This is not a consideration for NAU," he replied.

There is little to no reason to doubt Marlow, as a move of that caliber while the school is transitioning toward an entirely new university president — with Rita Cheng, the current president, leaving — makes a decision to leave the Big Sky hard to justify.

Plus, Northern Arizona has been a Big Sky member since 1970. Just four schools have been in the conference longer than Northern Arizona in Idaho State, Montana, Montana State and Weber State.

The WAC meanwhile has quickly worked to invite schools, as college sports writer Matt Brown has reported in his newsletter Extra Points, bringing in a slew of Texas schools as the conference appears to have a plan to bring back football, which was dropped in 2012. The WAC has an offer to one Big Sky school in Northern Arizona's main rival Southern Utah, and reportedly there have been talks about Weber State joining Southern Utah in bolting for the WAC according to

Assuming the Texas schools and Southern Utah join as expected, the WAC would need to add one more school that sponsors football to have an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs, another addition or attempt to get a waiver for Dixie State and Tarleton State to be postseason eligible early after each just moved to Division I.


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