Not that it means anything on the field until August, but Texas State officially joined the Sun Belt Conference at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 following its one-year Footbal Bowl Subdivision (FBS) baptism in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), which is now dead as a football conference.
The Bobcats and Georgia State joined the Sun Belt as all-sports members, while Texas-Arlington (UTA) joined as a non-football member. The league now has eight football programs and two others that don’t play football. Next year, Idaho and New Mexico State, two football programs orphaned by the demise of WAC football, will join the Sun Belt as football members, while Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will join the league in all sports.
“Joining Sun Belt Conference this year is exciting for us because it is a conference where I feel we will be for a while, and that is good for us,” Texas State football coach Dennis Franchione said. “The geography is a good fit for us and we have a history with Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette and Troy. It is a good football conference with four bowl teams from last season coming back. We are excited about the opportunity to play them.”
The holdover members of the Sun Belt are Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR), Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL), Louisiana-Monroe (ULM), South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky. All are members in all sports, except for UALR, which does not compete in football.
The Sun Belt Conference is a member of the 10-league alliance of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and oncoming College Football Playoff.
Last football season, the Sun Belt sent four teams to postseason bowl games – the league’s highest total since it began sponsoring football in 2001. Sun Belt teams were 7-2 record against Conference USA and won 19 non-conference games, its highest total in history.
“If you look at their success the past few years, the league has improved tremendously in all areas,” Texas State athletic director Larry Teis said. “Last season they had four bowl teams in football and recently four teams played in the NCAA post-season baseball tournament. Geographically, we are also in a conference with two teams from Texas, two from Arkansas, and two from Louisiana. Teams in the East are also nice places for our fans to visit and provide us additional regions to recruit quality student-athletes.”
The Sun Belt formed in 1976 and has a permanent seat on the NCAA’s 18-member Board of Directors, giving the conference a voice in the pressing issues of college athletics. The league’s headquarters are in New Orleans, LA.
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