Shouts out to the local boys going to the big time.

The University of California Davis football team will compete in the Big Sky Conference starting in 2012, joining cross-region competitor Sacramento State University.

Conference commissioner Doug Fullerton on Tuesday announced Aggies football would enter the conference, along with Great Western Conference rival Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Most of UC Davis sports will continue to compete in the Big West Conference. “Competing in the Big Sky Conference will bring even more recognition and excitement to our university and its intercollegiate athletics program,” UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi said in a news release.

The Big Sky includes Sacramento State, Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State and Weber State in Utah.

UC Davis officials say joining the conference will cut costs and travel time for students athletes, especially since UC Davis has played teams in Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania in recent years.

“This is a great direction our football program,” UC Davis head football coach Bob Biggs said. “We look forward to building regional rivalries where postseason consideration could be on the line.”

UC Davis athletics director Greg Warzecka said the conference move will also benefit fans, who will have “a much better opportunity to travel to road games.”

UC Davis will end its eight-year affiliation with the Great West at the end of the 2011 season. The university has also been a member of the Far Western Conference from 1925-81, the Northern California Athletic Conference (1982-92) and the American West Conference in 1993.

“The Great West has been a wonderful home for our football program for several years, and we’ve built some lasting memories, including two league titles,” Warzecka said. “It has allowed us to play for conference championships, our players to earn individual recognition and the Aggies to continue or renew long-standing rivalries.”

“A key point, Bill Herenda, Director at the Positive Coaching Alliance and UC Davis radio network sideline reporter states, “is that it’s football only…other sports remain in the Big West Conference. Also, according to Herenda, this is a “very good move and preserves and strengthens rivalries with Sacramento State and Cal Poly…”

UC Davis will pay $150,000 to enter the Big Sky Conference, which will be paid over three years. In addition, UC Davis will pay annual membership of $10,000, slightly more than the $9,000 per year for the Great West. University officials expect to recoup the cost of joining the conference with more television and Internet video-streaming revenue.

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