Appalachian State And Georgia Southern To Join Sun Belt

March 26, 2013 · By · Filed Under Football, News, Sun Belt Conference 

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Many media outlets are reporting that two of the top FCS schools will be joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2015.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, who have combined to win nine FCS championships in football, will leave the Southern Conference for the Sun Belt. Both schools will join the conference in every sport except football beginning in 2014. The football programs will join in 2015 as they make the transition from FCS to FBS.

An announcement is scheduled for later this week by the schools and league officials.

The addition of these two schools will return the conference to 10 football members in 2015 with Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky. Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington, who will join in 2013-2014, do not sponsor football but will join in all other sports.

Appalachian State joined the Southern Conference in 1972 and has won or shared the league title 12 times, including seven of the last eight, with 20 appearances in the FCS playoffs. They commissioned a feasibility study two years ago about a transition to FBS. The result was that the program should seek membership in FBS.

Appalachian State won three FCS titles in a row from 2005-2007 under former head coach Jerry Moore and stunning fifth-ranked Michigan in the 2007 season opener, the first win for an FCS school against an AP Top 25 team.

Georgia Southern has won a record six FCS titles in 1985, ’86, ’89, 90, ’99 and 2000 and nine Southern Conference titles.

The students at Georgia Southern approved a $75 student fee increase to help make the move from FCS to FBS after the school announced their intentions to move to the FBS level last April. The university also announced a plan to expand Paulson Stadium by 6,300 seats.

Appalachian State would enter the Sun Belt with one of the highest average attendance for football. In 2011 a release by the NCAA showed that they led the FCS attendance records for the third time in four years with an average of 25,715 per game.

But they may not be the only schools added to the conference. It is expected that New Mexico State and Idaho may be added as football-only members of the conference. These two schools do not have a home as the WAC is set to dissolve this summer. This would expand the Sun Belt to 12 football schools and would make them eligible for a conference championship game.

Two weeks ago at the Sun Belt basketball tournament, Conference commissioner Karl Benson said that the majority of schools the Sun Belt was considering for expansion were in the FCS level.

On March 9th, Benson said about NMSU and Idaho. “They are in need of a conference and are being assessed. We are looking specifically for schools that will add stability and value. We also are exploring the possibility of football-only members, and it’s not just limited to NMSU and Idaho. We have created a lot of maps with different possibilities that would fit many of our needs including geography.”

But as the wheel of conference realignment continuing to turn, there is speculation that Western Kentucky may be the next Sun Belt school to defect from the conference for seemingly greener pastures in Conference USA. Only time will tell how this will eventually shake out.

Comments

3 Responses to “Appalachian State And Georgia Southern To Join Sun Belt”

  1. Huan on March 26th, 2013 5:27 pm

    Sam Houston should be considered as well. If the big east take Tulsa then CUSA will take either western Kentucky or Arkansas state.
    If not Sam Houston maybe Florida A&M?

  2. Brian on March 27th, 2013 7:39 pm

    I like Sam Houston, I’m also a fan of Lamar. Texas is a big place with lots of good recruits. The more presence we have out there the better.

  3. huan on March 27th, 2013 9:16 pm

    wasn’t Sam Houston also runner-up FCS champion?

    i thought about FA&M because like Texas, Florida is a good state to recruit from as well.

    in fact, i think the Sun Belt ought to take both and another as replacement for Western Kentucky/Arkansas State and go to 14.

    another florida school or maybe U Richmond

    all 3 have played for FCS championships

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