Commissioner Benson Released Statement On WKU Departure Announcement

April 3, 2013 · By · Filed Under Football, News, Sun Belt Conference 

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After Western Kentucky announced that they entered into an agreement with Conference USA to join the league on July 1, 2014, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson released a statement.

“Today’s announcement that Western Kentucky University has accepted an invitation to join Conference USA is not a surprise given the communication that I have had with university officials and the rampant speculation over the past several months,” Benson said in the statement released by the conference office.”

“I have long understood the implications of the move and what it means for the Sun Belt Conference. In fact, the Sun Belt Conference has been preparing for this possibility for quite some time and with the support and guidance of the Sun Belt Conference board of directors, I will continue to make recommendations on what options the Sun Belt Conference has in terms of future members and divisional structure.”

“I remain confident that we have numerous options and that there are universities that have a strong desire to be members of the Sun Belt Conference. Last week’s additions to the Sun Belt of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern as all sports members and Idaho and New Mexico State as football-only members gives proof that there are universities that want to join the SBC and be part of its dynamic future.”

In 2013 the Sun Belt football season will consist of eight football teams. South Alabama, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisana-Monroe, Troy and Western Kentucky along with newcomers Georgia State and Texas State.

Currently the 2014 membership will include Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, who will be in the final year of their two-year transition from FCS to FBS. It will also include Idaho and New Mexico State as Western Kentucky will leave for C-USA.

Texas-Arlington and Arkansas-Little Rock both are Sun Belt members but do not sponsor football. Two top mentioned potential replacement schools for WKU have been James Madison and Liberty.

A timeframe for announcing any new members to the Sun Belt Conference is not known. Though it is known they intend to go to divisional play in football, which will require one more school who sponsors football in order to do so. That would pave the way to holding a conference championship game. This could happen as soon as 2014 unless the seemingly ever moving target of conference expansion continues to plague the Sun Belt.

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