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Sun Belt Expands to Twelve Football Schools

What has been rumored for months came to fruition today when the Sun Belt Conference announced the additions of Georgia Southern and Appalachian State as new, full time members effective July 1, 2014.

In addition, Commissioner Karl Benson announced in a conference call the additions of New Mexico State and Idaho as football-only members, expanding the league to twelve football schools and making the league eligible to host a conference championship game.

Idaho and New Mexico State will remain in the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports.

“Adding the two football only schools will solidify a Western Division with the two Louisiana schools, Arkansas State and Texas State,” Benson said.  “I think we can justify the addtions of those schools from a geography standpoint in that schools will travel to only one of the two schools in every given year.  The travel demands will be a lot bigger on New Mexico State and Idaho than it will the current Sun Belt schools.”

The two FCS schools will go through a transition phase from the FCS to the FBS and will be eligible for a conference football championship in the 2014 season.  They will be eligible for postseason following the 2015 season.

Located in Statesboro, Georgia, Georgia Southern has won six national championships at the FCS level.  The Eagles were 11-3 in 2012 and reached the national semifinals.

“The football experience at Georgia Southern and Appalachian State is already FBS-like,  The two schools average over 25,000 fans and over 9.000 students per game,” Benson said.

Appalachian State is located in Boone, NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The Mountaineers are three time FCS champions, winning the title in 2005, 2006 and 2007.  The school averaged over 27,000 fans, leading the FCS in attendance the last six years.

“The football experience at Georgia Southern and Appalachian State is already FBS-like,  The two schools average over 25,000 fans and over 9.000 students per game,” Benson said.

New Mexico State and Idaho were both members of the Sun Belt Conference in the early 2000′s.

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