Incoming Commissioner Speaks Of Conference Expansion For Sun Belt

February 21, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference 

The new incoming Sun Belt commissioner made the rounds last Friday after the announcement of his selection to replace the retiring Wright Waters.

He said that his immediate priority as the new commissioner would be to upgrade the league’s brand during this time of flux in college football. Currently Sun Belt schools who participate in football are Arkansas State,  Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy and Western Kentucky with South Alabama playing a full Sun Belt schedule in 2012 and joining as a full member in 2013.

Benson said, “Today is the beginning of the message that the Sun Belt Conference is going to be a player on the college landscape. We believe we provide opportunities for our existing institutions, but for any future institutions, (we) compare favorably to our peers.”

A couple Sun Belt schools have been mentioned as possible targets by the as-yet unnamed conference born out of the merger talks between Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference. Those teams mentioned have been Florida International, Florida Atlantic and North Texas.

But Benson said that maintaining a presence in both Florida and Texas is important for the conference. But he also mentioned that the conference will be in conversations with unnamed Conference-USA members about moving to the Sun Belt.

The appeal of the Sun Belt would be to allow those unnamed schools to remain in a regional conference that is more beneficial and logical to them while allowing the Sun Belt to expand to at least 12 football-participating schools.

Louisiana Tech, who is currently a member of the WAC, has publicly expressed their desire to be a part of the new Sun Belt Conference. If Louisiana Tech joins the conference, only one more football playing school would be needed for the required 12 to have a conference championship game.

While Benson was at it, he talked with Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham on their radio show on 790 The Zone. He said he was aware of other schools in the region such as Georgia State and UNC-Charlotte. While Georgia State does not have plans on moving up to the FBS, UNC-Charlotte does want to move up to FBS but does not have a timeline to do so and will only be playing their first season of football in 2013, a full year away.

While Benson’s priority would be to add existing FBS members to the conference, he would be open to schools with aspirations for FBS play if the attempted addition of current FBS schools was not fruitful for the conference.


One Response to “Incoming Commissioner Speaks Of Conference Expansion For Sun Belt”

  1. Gary on March 6th, 2012 12:49 am

    South Alabama football is going to be a powerhouse in the Sunbelt Conference. I am a big fan. GO JAGS!

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