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Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published July 16 2012

UND football coach happy with Big Sky Conference, new branding

GRAND FORKS – During his stay at the Big Sky Conference’s Football Kickoff event in Park City, Utah, this week, University of North Dakota football coach Chris Mussman was impressed with the first-rate style in which the league operates.

“They’re doing this the right way,” Mussman said. “It’s impressive.”

That first-class impression is exactly what the league hopes to convey. And on Monday, the league unveiled a new logo and branding campaign that it hopes continues to work toward those ends.

“We wanted to be sure that our Big Sky Conference brand was a compelling representation of who we have been, who we are now, and most importantly, who we aspire to be in the future,” said Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “Additionally, we wanted to add value to our conference brand as we enter future negotiations and continue current relationships with partners and sponsors.”

With UND and Southern Utah becoming full-time members this fall, as well as Cal Poly and UC Davis joining as football-only affiliates, the league felt it was an ideal time to update the conference’s identity.

The Big Sky has been working with SME, Inc., for the past year on the project, a process that will continue through the 2013-14 school year when the league celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of sponsoring women’s sports.

The new logo can be tweaked to accommodate each school’s colors. For example, UND’s Big Sky logo contains green, while Weber State’s logo includes purple.

Fullerton, through a press release, said the rebranding process is important to continue to stand out in the ever-changing college athletic landscape.

He said the league has positioned itself as one of three football-playing conferences in the western United States, along with the Pac-12 and Mountain West.

Also, during a turbulent time in conference realignment, the Big Sky has been able to remain stable. In fact, Fullerton told reporters in Utah on Monday that the league continues to be in negotiations with the University of Idaho, a Football Bowl Subdivision program that may be in need of a new league after the decimation of the Western Athletic Conference.

“It is very clear that the business landscape within collegiate athletics has never been more competitive,” Fullerton said of the rebranding. “So more than ever, we realized that we needed to stand apart by discovering our true points of difference and shouting that difference for all to hear.”

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald