(STATS) - Idaho is taking a potential return to Big Sky Conference football more seriously.

The Sun Belt Conference announced Tuesday it will drop the Vandals and New Mexico State after the 2017 season. Both programs are midway through four-year associate memberships for football only.

Idaho, a former Big Sky football power which is still a member in other sports, has a standing offer from the conference to rejoin it, which would drop the Vandals back to the FCS level. The Big Sky has 13 members in football.

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Idaho president Chuck Staben expressed his disappointment over the Sun Belt's decision, preferring his university remain in the FBS. Idaho officials will consider the Big Sky's offer for the 2018 season or perhaps play as an FBS independent, which the Vandals did in 2013.

The Vandals won eight Big Sky football titles while they were members from 1963-95.

Coastal Carolina has departed from Big South Conference football to move to the Sun Belt starting in 2017. It will bring Sun Belt football to 12 schools for one season before Idaho and New Mexico State have their associate memberships end.