MTSU And FAU To Pay $700k Early Exit Fee

January 23, 2013 · By · Filed Under News, Sun Belt Conference 

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Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson announced that Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic will both leave the Sun Belt Conference effective June 30, 2013.

After previously announcing that they would remain in the Sun Belt Conference through June 2014. However, the schools and the conference office came to a settlement that allows FAU and MTSU to pay a “slightly reduced” early exit fee. The Sun Belt Executive Committee voted on and offered a $700,000 exit fee which both schools opted to accept.

Middle Tennessee and the Sun Belt had argued over the previous long-standing exit fee of $500,000 and the new penalty of $1 million, which was voted in by the executive committee last spring.

“Our desire to aid our athletic directors in finalizing the 2013 football schedule was the reason for allowing a reduced exit fee,” Benson said. “While the seven-game conference schedule is not perfect, the understanding is that this would only be for one season.”

Now that the date of withdrawl has been finalized, the Sun Belt conference will have eight football members and 10 total members for the 2013-2014 year. The schools with football will play a seven-game conference schedule and a double round-robin 18-game schedule for men’s and women’s basketball.

“We will shift our attention back towards the future of the league and what our membership should consist of,” Benson said.  “As of now there are no pending invitations to the Sun Belt for membership, however, we know that there are a number of teams interested in joining our league.”

The Sun Belt is coming off of it’s most successful season in it’s 12-year history. Four teams were invited to bowl games and all four of them will return to the Sun Belt Conference for the 2013 season.

Next season the Sun Belt’s football membership will consist of Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky. Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington are non-football members.

Benson said that the conference is competitive in all sports and that it’s position as one of only 10 BCS conferences along with its geographical footprint are attractive to the schools who have expressed interest in joining the Sun Belt.

Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, also president of the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee, said that the conference’s chief executives “appreciate the contributions Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee have made to the Sun Belt Conference. We wish FAU and MTSU well.”

Benson also said that the Sun Belt’s bylaws need to be changed to more clearly restrict a school’s early exit because current rules requiring a notification date of departure are incomplete. Benson also indicated that pressure was put on the remaining schools to determine a reduced exit fee for the two schools in order to adjust their football schedules. Thus the Sun Belt executive committee “reluctantly settled.”

Benson said that the departures of MTSU and FAU along with North Texas and FIU might delay the Sun Belt’s progress, but it will not deter it.
“We were on our way,” said Benson. “… We were hoping we had time to build the conference to the point where we could stand alongside Conference USA with a comparable name. But we will eventually get there.”

Comments

One Response to “MTSU And FAU To Pay $700k Early Exit Fee”

  1. Huan on January 23rd, 2013 9:44 pm

    Who are the teams interested in membership? NMSU? Idaho?

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