Reports: Appalachian State, Georgia Southern to join Sun Belt Conference

By Kevin Kelley -
Appalachian State-Georgia Southern
Appalachian State & Georgia Southern could be heading to the FBS. Image:

The Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Georgia Southern Eagles will be joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2015, multiple sources have reported.

Both schools are members of the Southern Conference and are perennial powerhouses in the Football Championship Subdivision. Appalachian State has collected three national championships and won or shared the Southern Conference championship 12 times.

Georgia Southern has twice as many national championships as Appalachian State with six, but two less Southern Conference titles (ten). GSU also trails in the head-to-head series 11-14-1.

Appalachian State’s move to the FBS was first reported by the Winston-Salem Journal. They indicated that “University officials will accept an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference later this week, probably Wednesday, according to a source at ASU familiar with the negotiations.”

Last year, Appalachian State was in talks to join Conference USA, but the Mountaineers were not selected. They have been pursuing a move to the FBS since August 2011.

Georgia Southern’s possible move to the Sun Belt was also reported today. A source told SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey that “GSU will make the full move in 2015, with a transitional season in 2014 and no change to its 2013 schedule.”

GSU has a press conference set up for Wednesday where it’s expected they could announce the news.

The addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern would give the Sun Belt Conference ten football-playing members. Current members include Arkansas State, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, UL Lafayette, ULM, and Western Kentucky.

Earlier this month, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson told the media that they want to “make sure there’s at least 10 football schools while considering the option of 12” and they “have also talked about the strong possibility of having a football championship game.”

Benson also said they have “evaluated about 20 different perspective members.” New FBS independents Idaho and New Mexico State are possibilities, as well as several current FCS schools.

Update (5 p.m. ET)

Brett McMurphy of ESPN has confirmed Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will move to the Sun Belt in in 2015. Both schools will be ineligible for the FCS playoffs in 2013, and will be eligible for the Sun Belt Championship and bowl games in 2015.

Update (10 p.m. ET)

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports that Idaho and New Mexico will join the Sun Belt in 2014.

Comments (26)

Don’t be shocked if by, say 2018, the Sun Belt will be at least equal to C-USA, football-wise.

Sunbelt conference usa n big least are all three equal. I just wonder how long before all one double a are moved up.

I guess it won’t be long now since the SunBelt no longer has any standards! Next they can invite the St. Catherine’s school for the deaf, dumb, and blind! If you can’t go to college, then go to Ga Southern!

So why is the Sun Belt promoting these teams while Idaho and New Mexico State still don’t have a conference?

Boone, North Carolina and Statesboro, Georgia…little bit closer to Troy, Mobile and Atlanta than Moscow, Idaho

just a thought

CBS Sports says

The Sun Belt Conference will grow by four members by the end of the week.

The addition of Georgia Southern and Appalachian State – already being reported by multiple outlets – will be announced Wednesday according to sources within the conference. Later in the week, perhaps as early Thursday, it is expected that New Mexico State and Idaho will also join the league beginning in 2014.

Generally speaking, the Historically Black Colleges tend to want to remain in conferences with similar teams. IMHO that type of loyalty is commendable. If the FBS teams felt that way, Maryland, Missouri, Rutgers, Houston and probably 20 other teams would be playing in more sensible conferences.

Florida A & M announced a move to FBS a few years ago; but pulled back when the alumni and community support wasn’t there. B-C had a winning season on the field, but struggled to get 5 or 6000 fans a a game.

To look at it from another perspective. using the 2012 Sagarin ratings, GaSo would be the 3rd best team in the Sun Belt, while B-C’ even with their 9-3 record would be almost the worst. They are just slightly better than South Alabama.

Those two schools are fine in the MEAC, and I don’t think adding Jacksonville would be that great of a move since it’s a small private school, even if it is in a large metro. I’m not sure JU would want to move up either.

The only embarrassing thing here is your efforts to belittle the accomplishments of a well-respected, storied, and successful football team. Especially considering your own (Ga. State) played in the same division as Ga. Southern for three years and won all of ten games out of the 33 played. If any of the two GA schools deserve to be in the FBS division it is Southern who is 275-101 all time with Six NC and Nine Conference Titles! Your actions reflect poorly on the Ga. State fanbase and I can only hope to meet some State fans with class when Ga. Southern travels to the dome to show the Panthers how real ball is played.

The Sun Belt, MAC, WAC and what’s left of CUSA all needs drop into there own division in college football. The BCS schools made up of the top 70 or 80 schools should be apart of tier 1 and all of the remaining should compete for there own championship in tier 2. All teams can still play in non-conference games but when it comes to the end of the season they should be competing amongst themselves.

No love for the little guy eh? If a school wants to put in the money and effort necessary to field an FBS program (NCAA minimum standards) than it should be allowed to. Regardless of how prestigious it is or how successful it is or will be.

And we need to make sure that “Mid-Major” basketball schools like LaSalle, Harvard, and FGCU drop down a level also; because they could never keep up with “major” teams like Kansas St; New Mexico or Georgetown. Right?

nice good moves on both accounts, now if we can only get Montana and North Dakota State up to FBS.

Why would App St & GA Southern wait until tomorrow (Wednesday) to make formal announcements about the move, when it’s going to be old news by then?

I’m a Student here at Southern, What a lot of people don’t know is that there is a lot of things that have to go through first to even be CONSIDERED to move up from the FCS to the FBS. First the school brought a vote to the student body to address the fees that would occur to pay for the move up and a stadium expansion since our stadium is too small to go by FBS guidelines. Next the board of regents has to actually allow these increase of fees, blah blah. Then you sit and wait for and Invitation. Like the article said App State has been sitting on a waiting list for 2 years now. GSU was lucky to get a Invitation this fast. Lastly, it does all come down to tradition and in strength football team. I didn’t mean to make this comment sound snooty, I just thought some of people reading this would want to know.

I live on the West Coast and I really don’t know a lot about either Georgia State or Georgia Southern. But two things I do know are:
—Georgia Southern is far more successful in FCS than Georgia State
—The commenter(s) on this site from Georgia Southern are far more articulate and far more rational than those from Georgia State.

The real GSU never had to drop $10,000 on our fans at half time to fill our seats. Even in the first years of the program be restarted. That is just embarrasing.