Before University of Texas alumnus Jeramiah Dickey was introduced in January 2021 as Boise State University's next director of athletics, he worked in the athletic department at Baylor University. The Baylor Bears are now one of the Big 12 Conference's top football teams this season. Since he's taken over Bronco athletics, he's still operating with that Power 5 mentality.
Before the Broncos played the Colorado State Rams Saturday in Fort Collins, Colo., Dickey sat down with KTVB sports director Jay Tust for an exclusive interview where he discussed everything Boise State athletics, including his grand vision for the Broncos' future.
Portions of the interview included in this article have been edited for grammar and clarity. Find the full 34-minute interview between Jay Tust and Dickey on KTVB's YouTube Channel. The video can also be found further down in this article.
"Our mentality is we are a Power 5, we're gonna operate as a Power 5 and that's going to be a constant as long as I'm here," Dickey said. "And so we very much are approaching every decision within that philosophy and having that mentality."
One project that would bring the Broncos' on-campus facilities on par with Power 5 programs would be an athletes' village. However, Dickey did clarify that the university still has a long way to go before the vision can be put on paper and before any shovels break ground.
"We always talked about Albertsons Stadium, and football is very much a driver for who we are and in what this industry has become. But I'm just as excited about ExtraMile (Arena) and what does that look like for us?" Dickey explained. "We have an unbelievable coaching staff and men's and women's basketball program and you throw in gymnastics and you throw in the opportunities for volleyball to utilize that facility, that ties into the overall holistic view that we've discussed to serve those 350-plus student-athletes."
Another area of focus for on-campus improvements includes the university's soccer program, which plays on a small field across the street from the Student Union Building. Due to the lack of lights for the soccer field, the men's and women's teams have to play during the afternoon. According to Dickey, the university can't add lights to the field either.
"We're going to operate as a Power 5, so we have to dig into some of these spaces in how we how we positively impact, you know, the student-athlete event experience, and so I do think that it's possible. I do think that we have the necessary space, and my job is to go out to find the resources to make it happen," he said.
Future projects will also focus on Bronco Nation's experience inside Albertsons Stadium during the game. Dickey said "low-hanging fruit" like graphics, paint, music, in-game promotions and stadium banners can be taken care of within a 12-to-18-month window. Not updating banners in the stadium's concourse every year doesn't meet Power 5 expectations and standards, Dickey added.
'Unrealistic expectations produce epic results'
However, logistically, fitting a new athletes' village for all of the university's athletic programs on campus may be a challenge. At the heart of Boise State's campus is the quad, and sports facilities stretch from the tennis courts near the Student Union Building to the intimate Bronco Gymnasium, which was first built in 1956.
"I say this -- unrealistic expectations produce epic results. Everything is possible," Dickey said.
For upgrades to Albertsons Stadium, which, aside from a new version of The Blue, hasn't received any major renovations since the south end zone was expanded in 2012, Dickey said he expects to lay out a plan sometime in Spring 2022.
While the university has a list of smaller projects that it can take care of within a couple of years, Dickey said he is still building a five-to-ten-year plan that takes into consideration all Bronco sports.
A year before Dickey arrived on campus, Boise State released renderings of proposed upgrades to the east side of Albertsons Stadium. Moving forward, that project may not be the focal point of future stadium upgrades.
"We've talked about the side, but are we better served by something in an end zone that very much becomes the heart and a one-stop-shop or a centralized location that we run everyone through fans and student-athlete and creating some additional space and still impacting the side of the stadium from a concourse and concessions, etc," Dickey said. "And things that aren't necessarily fun but very much needed as I've walked the concourses and seeing how it operates on game day."
Renovations planned for Boise State's Albertsons stadium's east side
In order to pay for all of these on-campus projects, Dickey said he will take every dollar that he can through any avenue possible, including increasing membership of the Bronco Athletic Association (BAA). Currently, according to Dickey, there are about 4,000 BAA members who donate at least $100 annually. The goal is to have 10,000 members.
To reach their lofty goals, Dickey said it will take a team effort, not just help from the City of Trees and the greater Treasure Valley.
"I've said many times since I arrived, it's going to take a team to get there. It's not just me, it's not just our department. It's this institution, it's the city, it's the state," he said.
With all the growth the Gem State has experienced in recent years, Dickey said he understands that Boise State University, as a football program and state university, represents Idaho on the grander stage.
"We're not just representing ourselves, we're representing the masses, and it's going to take the masses. It's going to take the team to really step up and help us get there, and my job is to tell that story and to go out and make it happen," Dickey said.
'You're gonna see us do some epic things and they will produce epic results'
Dickey said Boise State is proud of being an innovative research institution and will continue to keep that moving heading into the future as the university looks at emerging and possible revenue streams, including everything from fantasy sports to cryptocurrencies.
"We are going to continue to push the envelope and we're going to continue to do things and take risks that there may be others aren't willing to do, but I'm not concerned about them," he said. "We're going to continue to control what we can, we're going to look under every rock and we're going to identify the necessary revenue to move this vision forward, and it starts with membership drives and filling stadiums."
Dickey added that the university is still getting "our ducks in a row," but the school is looking into non-traditional revenue sources when it comes to athletes' own name, image and likeness. Prior to the 2021 season, the NCAA set out guidelines on how athletes can profit off of NIL.
"Take the blinders off and you see some of the things that are happening in your willingness to go out on that limb because that's where the fruit is. You're gonna see us do some epic things and they will produce epic results," Dickey said.
When it comes to college football conference realignment, Dickey explained that the university is invested in the future of the Mountain West Conference, but won't pass up any opportunity to join a Power 5 Conference.
"I have grand plans for the Mountain West and what we can ultimately do in this conference, but my job is always put us in the best possible position," he said.
'I don't think conference realignment is done'
In July, the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners announced that they were going to leave the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference, the premier Power 5 conference in college football.
The current power structure in the Football Bowl Subdivision is set with five conferences, which all have more money pumping through their member institutions and athletic programs. The Big 12, PAC-12, Big 10, SEC and ACC are considered Power 5 conferences and have automatic bids for New Year's 6 bowl games.
The other conferences in the FBS include the Mountain West, American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA. These conferences are referred to as the Group of 5 and only have one bid for an NY6 Bowl in the current College Football Playoff structure.
The current landscape of college football has been in constant flux since Texas and Oklahoma became the first dominos to fall in this round of conference realignment. The Big 12 Conference then added Brigham Young University and three teams from the American Athletic Conference, which has been the most successful Group of 5 conference in the last few years of the College Football Playoff.
The AAC then turned to C-USA for new member programs, inviting six schools from C-USA to join the American. The Sun Belt and MAC also both invited C-USA members to leave and join theirs, which has left only just a handful of teams left in Conference-USA.
While three Group of 5 conferences devour others, the Mountain West Conference, under Commissioner Craig Thompson, has stayed the course and hasn't made any moves in this round of conference realignment.
However, Jeremiah Dickey said there are still many unsettled matters in college football, including the current format of the playoff, which is currently set at four teams. The Football Championship Subdivision, the lower subdivision of Division I college football, has a 16-team playoff format.
Dickey said he may just be hopeful, but he believes the playoff for the Bowl subdivision will expand to 12 teams, and if it does, that'll impact the Mountain West.
"I don't think conference realignment is done, but our job is to do what's in the best interest of this institution, and who knows what that looks like three to five years from now," Dickey told KTVB.
Whatever comes Boise State's way, Dickey said the university will be prepared for it, and he expects to have concrete discussions about the conference's future soon.
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