SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – In an effort to provide their teams with more high-caliber non-conference men’s and women’s basketball contests, the Big Sky Conference and the Summit League have announced a three-year challenge series that will start during the 2023-24 campaign, Commissioners Tom Wistrcill and Josh Fenton announced Tuesday.

These contests will be part of the officially titled Big Sky – Summit Challenge. Each men’s and women’s team will play one home and one road game against two opponents from the other conference in each of the next three seasons.

“Securing more Division I non-conference home games for our schools is a top priority as we continue to seek ways to elevate our league in the increasingly competitive national landscape of college basketball,” Wistrcill said. “I want to thank Josh and the entire staff and membership of the Summit League for helping make this agreement happen, and we’re excited to see it tip off this upcoming season.”

This upcoming season, the challenge will take place on January 3 and 6, 2024. For the Summit League, this means the conference games originally scheduled for this week will be played before Christmas on a variety of different dates that fit each team’s schedule.

“The Summit League is excited to partner with the Big Sky and its member institutions on this innovative concept,” Fenton said. “This series will help each conference’s member schools with guaranteed non-conference games in a challenging scheduling environment. It also gives us an opportunity to creatively engage with fans, while allowing our basketball programs to enhance their resumes. We are appreciative of the Big Sky and Tom Wistrcill for the partnership.”

The matchups will be determined annually using data from past seasons NET rankings and regular-season conference finishes, along with consideration for the prior season matchups. The matchups for next season will be announced at a later date.

For the Challenge games during the 2023-24 season, the leagues will also take into account previously scheduled non-conference contests as a factor in determining the matchups.

About the Big Sky Conference
Founded in 1963, the Big Sky Conference is a NCAA Division I conference competing in the Football Championship Subdivision. With around 3,300 student-athletes competing for 151 teams representing 14 institutions in 16 sports (seven men’s, nine women’s), the Big Sky prides itself on its “#ExperienceElevated” platform that emphasizes the unique traits and lifelong benefits that the conference and its member institutions provide to around 4,000 student-athletes each year.

The conference has 10 full members (Eastern Washington University; the University of Idaho; Idaho State University; the University of Montana; Montana State University; Northern Arizona University; the University of Northern Colorado; Portland State University; Sacramento State; and Weber State University) located in eight states across the western United States, plus two football affiliate members (Cal Poly and UC Davis) and two men’s golf affiliate members (Binghamton University and the University of Hartford). Conference members have won 13 NCAA championships, including seven in football by five different members as well as six titles by NAU men’s cross country over the past seven seasons. 

About The Summit League
Through 40 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of around 100,000 at 10 institutions, including five located in top 60 U.S. metropolitan populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: the University of Denver, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, University of Nebraska Omaha, Oral Roberts University, University of St. Thomas, University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University.