Penn State found itself in an interesting situation on Thursday when Idaho school president Chuck Staben officially announced the football program’s move from the FBS to the FCS.
"To become successful enough to affiliate with any FBS conference would require unjustifiable and unsustainable expenditures," Staben said, according to a release sent out by the NCAA.
"Competing as an independent with an extremely uncertain conference affiliation would be irresponsible, especially when we have the alternative of joining one of the most prominent and stable FCS conferences."
So how does that affect the Nittany Lions?
Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour announced in August of 2015 that the Vandals would visit Beaver Stadium for the 2019 season opener.
And a month prior, the Big Ten passed a strict set of scheduling rules that mandated conference teams must commit to play nine league games and one nonconference game against a fellow power league (in Penn State’s case in 2019 it will be Pitt).
Big Ten teams also are not allowed to schedule FCS teams, the ruling of which begins in 2016.
The Nittany Lions, however, will keep Idaho as the season opener in 2019, the athletic department confirmed to the Centre Daily Times on Thursday afternoon.
“We have an agreement to play Idaho in 2019 and plan to play the game,” said a spokesperson.
Representatives from the Big Ten conference confirmed to the Centre Daily Times that the scheduling agreement between Idaho and Penn State still stands because it existed before the Vandals’ decision to move to the Big Sky conference.
The damages for breaking the contract would be a reported $1.45 million according to FBSSchedules.com, which also writes that “either school may cancel due to a change in scheduling requirements that includes ‘without limitation, changes in the number of conference games to be played, or changes resulting from the addition or subtraction of conference members.’”
When the original ruling was announced, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney said, “As we were looking at our future, there are challenges around the game-day experience. So I think better competition draws the fans more. I think if you asked players, they don’t like practice very often but they love games. They love big games. So I think it’s partly (for the) player and fan and television.”
Eight Big Ten teams have FCS matchups in 2016 that also have been “grandfathered” in despite the ruling.