This week, CSJ’s David Mays got a hold of Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill and talked to him about the future of the conference, how the schools of the conference are navigating through a Covid-19 world, and his thoughts about FCS.
CSJ’s David Mays: Thank you so much for taking time to do this for me. Let’s get right into it!
Mays: When you graduated from the University of St Thomas, did you envision later in life you’d be a Conference Commissioner?
Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill: Not in the plans, but I knew I wanted to work in college sports. I didn’t know much about the future career opportunities, so my hope was to just find a job and learn from good people.
Mays: What is the biggest challenge facing the Big Sky right now with the current events facing our country?
Wistrcill: The biggest challenge is just the unknown. Everyone (student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans, parents, etc.) want answers about the fall and we don’t have any right now. We certainly get smarter each day about the pandemic and it’s impact on our institutions, but we don’t want to make any decisions on competition until later in the summer.
Mays: Where do you envision the Big Sky Conference in 10 years ?
Wistrcill: We hope to be the dominant FCS Conference in the country with a new media rights deal that brings us increased revenue and increased viewing opportunities for our fans.
Mays: What do you believe is your greatest accomplishment thus far as Commissioner?
Wistrcill: That’s not for me to answer. You’d have to ask our Presidents or AD’s that question. What I do know, is that we have great people in the conference that care deeply about the student-athletes and the success of their programs, and I feel very fortunate to be part of it.
Mays: Do you see the Big Sky expanding ?
Wistrcill: No plans at this time, but we are always monitoring the marketplace to see what’s happening.
Mays: How do you like the FCS Playoffs for football, vs the FBS module ?
Wistrcill: Having worked in both, I can tell you the FCS playoffs are fantastic. Love the homesites and the energy that comes with that and I also am a big fan of the championship game in Frisco. That place rocks when kickoff comes!
Mays: What’s one or two things you would like to see changed in the FCS?
Wistrcill: I’d love to see more non-conference games between the FCS Conferences. We need more than just some of the programs the Southland and the Valley conferences willing to do home and homes with our programs in the Big Sky. Big non-conference games are so exciting for the fans!
Mays: The Big Sky is already on Pluto TV, are you looking to expand to more networks ?
Wistrcill: We love our partnership with Pluto, but we are always looking into the future to see what can work best for us from a financial and distribution standpoint.
Mays: What one or two games that you’ve attended in person have been your favorites?
Wistrcill: I love any home game on our campuses. Love the pre-game energy and how hyped the players and fans get. It was also special in my first week on the job to be at the FCS Championship game and see Eastern Washington play. We hope to have teams in Frisco more frequently!
Mays: Thank you Commissioner for your time, it is greatly appreciated. Good luck this season with everything! We will be watching!
David is a former writer on SB Nation (BuildingTheDam), covering all sports at Oregon State. David also conducted field interviews with students athletes across all sports at Oregon State. Before that, he wrote for Know It All Football. He is a huge sports fan and loves college football and is the brains behind the Twitter handle HardcoreFCS.