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Vandals, Broncos rivalry is history

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | December 10, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - A decision by the Idaho State Board of Education will likely end a 40-year-old Idaho college sports tradition.

Board members narrowly approved a policy change on Thursday that opens the door for Boise State to end the scheduling of an annual football game between the Moscow-based University of Idaho and Boise State University.

Despite a plea from UI President Duane Nellis to maintain the rivalry game, by a vote of 5-3, board members delegated all decision-making authority regarding athletic scheduling to university and college presidents.

The move overturns previous board motions that required an annual home-and-home game between the two schools.

"I think it's important that this board shows some indication of support for this continued rivalry as part of its tradition," Nellis said before the vote in Coeur d'Alene. "It has a significant economic impact on the state. Every time we play each other there is a lot of media interest. There is a lot of statewide interest, and I just hope that that's reflected as the board reviews this policy."

Boise State president Bob Kustra and football coach Chris Petersen made it clear in a series of interviews last summer that they were not interested in continuing the practice of traveling to Moscow for games.

Beginning in July, the Broncos and Vandals will be in different conferences. The Broncos are heading into the Mountain West conference, while the Vandals will continue in the Western Athletic Conference. The teams met Nov. 12 at UI's Kibbie Dome in Moscow for their last game as members of the same conference. Boise State won, 52-14.

Board meeting materials indicate that given the Boise State program's rising national prominence, scheduling games against nationally ranked, larger conference opponents makes more sense than scheduling an in-state game in a former conference.

Discontinuing the rivalry series means UI will lose a home game more than likely to be sold out every other year, and the chance to play in front of a large alumni base in the Treasure Valley during the alternate years.

Board member Don Soltman of Twin Lakes cast one of the votes opposing the move.

"There are very few things in Idaho that unify the north and south, and this is one opportunity where we can do that," Soltman said.

Board members Paul Agidius, a former mayor of Moscow, and Emma Atchley, a Boise native, and UI alum, also cast opposing votes.

Votes in favor of the policy change came from board members Paul Westerberg of Preston, Kenneth Edmunds of Twin Falls, Rod Lewis of Boise, Idaho Superintendent of Instruction Tom Luna, and Milford Terrell of Boise.

"Even though Boise State will be in a different conference, many state rivalry games continue in other states with similar situations - Colorado-Colorado State, New Mexico-New Mexico State, and Florida-Florida State," said Nellis following the board's decision. "Although this policy change passed 5 to 3, I do hope Dr. Kustra and I, along with our athletic directors, can continue this important tradition."

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