This archived article was written by: David Osborne Jr.
The Scenic West Athletic Conference has under gone many changes over its existence. While at the height of the conference, there were 10 members, there are currently six that participate in the indoor sports, including men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. The current athletic programs include North Idaho College, College of Southern Idaho, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College, Utah State University Eastern and Colorado Northwestern Community College. Former members of the conference were: Dixie State, Ricks College (now BYU- Idaho),Treasure Valley Community College and Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University) and that list is going to grow by one as recently as fall of 2014.
The Cardinals from NIC will be moving from the National Junior College Athletic Association to the Northwest Athletics Association of Community Colleges (one of the three governing bodies of junior colleges in the nation) which covers Oregon and Washington. The change will be over two years starting with the outdoor sports in fall 2014 where the Cardinals soccer, golf and softball teams will start competing in the NWAACC. The indoor sports including men’s and women’s basketball as well as volleyball will remain members of the NJCAA and the SWAC until 2016 where they will join the other teams as members of the NWAACC.
USU Eastern Athletic Director Dave Paur said, “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have kept the indoor sports in the conference until 2016.” This means that the Golden Eagles will still continue to make the 806-mile trip that, without stopping, takes just less than 13 hours of driving time.
The proposal to move from the NJCAA to the NWAACC was proposed to the NIC Board of Trustees by President Joe Dunlap and Athletic Director Al Williams as a way to help save the Cardinals money in the athletic budget. The nearest member of the SWAC to NIC is CSI, still over 500 miles away and the farthest member of the conference is the College of Southern Nevada, which is 1,124 miles away from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where NIC is located.
The Board of Directors for NIC voted 3-1 for the change in March 2014. NIC expects that the change will save them about $600,000 a year in the athletic budget. These savings will come from cutting travel costs. Travel for NIC will be much easier with the majority of the 34 colleges that are members of the NWAACC being within 450 miles.
The only sport that will not make the jump to the NWAACC at NIC will be wrestling and that is because the NWAACC does not currently have a wrestling program. Three other members of the NWAACC have wrestling programs and they participate independently throughout the nation.
Paur said, “We don’t know how this will affect us (USU Eastern). As a member of the NJCAA, you go where they tell you to go and play who they tell you to play.” So for now, the SWAC tournament will continue to exist with only five members participating in indoor sports until further notified by the NJCAA.