Statesboro, GA (Sports Network) - Georgia Southern University announced on
Wednesday it is moving from the Southern Conference to the Sun Belt Conference
effective in 2014.
Georgia Southern has fielded one of the most successful programs in Football
Championship Subdivision history, with a record six national titles since 1985
and 10 Southern Conference championship since becoming a member in 1993.
In rising to the Bowl Subdivision level, Georgia Southern is expected to be
joined in the Sun Belt by fellow SoCon football member Appalachian State,
which has called a 4 p.m. ET news conference on Wednesday.
Both schools would make the move in all sports except men's soccer in the
2014-15 school year, although the football programs will not be eligible for
bowl games until the 2015 season.
The Sun Belt does not sponsor men's soccer, so Georgia Southern and Appalachian
State would have to find another conference home for their teams.
"This is a milestone day for Georgia Southern University, and we are very
excited to be joining the Sun Belt conference," Georgia Southern president
Brooks Keel told a standing-room-only crowd in the Williams Center during the
"This decision was made with the long-term interest of our university in
mind," Keel continued. "The Sun Belt will provide our student-athletes with an
outstanding opportunity to compete at a highest level, and we are excited to
contribute to the conference's success both on and off the field. I am equally
excited about the opportunity that it will provide Georgia Southern and the
more than 75,000 alumni that make up the Eagle Nation."
Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson visited Georgia Southern
Wednesday morning as the university formally accepted the Sun Belt invitation.
Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino, in a statement from the
conference, said, "While we're disappointed to be losing Appalachian State and
Georgia Southern, the Southern Conference cannot provide the platform their
football programs are seeking. Well wish them well when they depart.
"Our membership discussions with our presidents, chancellors and athletic
directors will continue as they have for the past 18 months and figure to be
more focused on specific options with this most recent development. There are
quality institutions interested in speaking with us regarding conference
membership, and our options remain solid."
Georgia Southern's 2013 football schedule will remain intact, but the Eagles
will not be eligible for the FCS playoffs. They have been FCS national
semifinalists in each of the past three seasons under coach Jeff Monken.
Appalachian State also has been a perennial national title contender and is the
only program to have won three straight FCS titles (2005-07).
Both programs will begin playing Sun Belt games and be revenue-sharing members
of the conference in 2014 and eligible for the Sun Belt conference title, but
will not be eligible to play in a bowl game. In 2015, they will become full
members of the conference and be bowl eligible.
The Sports Network