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Valley to Summit: Big Sky alters schedules and tournaments; expect others to follow suit

Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple hands out gifts to UND Athletic Director Brian Faison (left) and UND President Mark Kennedy (middle) during a press conference Jan. 26 in Grand Forks. (Joshua Komer /Grand Forks Herald)
Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple hands out gifts to UND Athletic Director Brian Faison (left) and UND President Mark Kennedy (middle) during a press conference Jan. 26 in Grand Forks. (Joshua Komer /Grand Forks Herald)
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Editor's note: Valley to Summit is a semi-daily roundup of news impacting the UND football and basketball programs, as well as updates from around the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Summit League.

The Big Sky Conference announced Monday the league will alter some schedules and change the format of conference tournaments in order to limit expenses during the 2020-21 season, a year which will be undoubtedly impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

Volleyball will play a shortened conference slate, while volleyball, softball and tennis will feature a smaller conference tournament field. The women's soccer conference tournament will be eliminated. Conference tournament host sites are being swapped to reduce travel.

The Big Sky is one of the first to make this type of announcement, but every mid-major league -- like the Summit League and Missouri Valley -- is considering these kinds of alterations.

Monday's Big Sky announcement allows individual schools to dictate restart protocol, as it's likely each state will be operating by different coronavirus-related guidelines.

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The Big Sky has 11 members in eight different states. The league likely feels fortunate UND has exited the conference and doesn't compound the travel conundrum. And the feeling is surely mutual.

UND's Hunter Pinke links up with NDSU QB

UND tight end Hunter Pinke, who suffered a spinal injury in a skiing accident in late December in Colorado, has won over fans of all varieties after his faith-based motivations and uplifting messages have inspired communities across the region.

He's even linked up with the star of the rival in-state school, North Dakota State starting quarterback Trey Lance.

NDSU AD speaks on what's at stake

One of the college football contingency plans for the 2020 season during the coronavirus pandemic is to play a conference-only schedule.

North Dakota State athletic director Matt Larsen told Jeff Kolpack of the Fargo Forum what that means for the Bison.

Kolpack reported the Bison stand to lose $3million in a Missouri Valley Football Conference-only setup. That number also doesn't include the $650,000 guarantee NDSU is set to make for playing at Oregon on Sept. 5.

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Kolpack said NDSU's ticket revenue is 75 to 80 percent driven by football.

Oregon reporter says Pac-12 eyeing conference-only

John Canzano of the Oregonian tweeted Monday that USC coach Clay Helton was telling media the Pac-12 has discussed a conference-only schedule.

Again, North Dakota State is set to make $650,000 for playing Oregon of the Pac-12 on Sept. 5.

Related Topics: UND SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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