Sun Belt Conference adds Idaho and New Mexico State

By Kevin Kelley -
Sun Belt adds Idaho and New Mexico State
The Sun Belt has added Idaho and New Mexico State for 2014.

The Sun Belt Conference has officially announced the addition of the Idaho Vandals and the New Mexico State Aggies, effective July 1, 2014.

Both schools are playing the 2013 season as FBS Independents. Since they are already at the FBS level, they can immediately compete for the Sun Belt Conference championship and accept bowl invitations.

Idaho and New Mexico State were formerly members of the Sun Belt Conference from 2001 through 2004. They each moved to the WAC in 2005, but went Independent after the conference opted to drop football after the 2012 season.

“Bringing Idaho and New Mexico State back for football gives our league stability without compromising quality,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University and President of the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee. “These are outstanding institutions with strong leadership and I join my fellow presidents and chancellors in welcoming them home to the Sun Belt Conference.”

The addition of Idaho and New Mexico State, coupled with yesterday’s addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, brings the total Sun Belt football membership to 12 for the 2014 season.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, members of the Southern Conference in the FCS, will both be eligible to compete for the Sun Belt Championship for the 2014 season. After the 2015 season, both schools will then be eligible to participate in bowl games.

With 12 teams now in place for 2014, the Sun Belt will likely split into two geographical divisions (see our prediction below), with each division winner facing off in a championship game held on campus.

East Division

Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky

West Division

Arkansas State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Texas State, UL Lafayette, ULM

Football Schedules

Comments (13)

connEr, if you read the article you see he is referring to the fact that both these schools were already football members of the Sun Belt Conference for four years (2001-2004). It is good to see the conference rebuild, there should be room in Div-1A football today for 6 power conferences plus 4 slightly less elite conferences that can put up good teams. The only oddity is Idaho as a geographic fit. NM State isn’t that far outside the geographic footprint of the rest of the conference, but Moscow Idaho is like the moon. Still it is nice to see the Vandals find a conference to land in.

Your question mark is pretty cryptic. It is definitely a win for the Sun Belt Conference, since it was getting close to going the way of the WAC. Repopulating the conference is certainly something they welcome. It is a winner for the schools too, since they do not have the stature to get into other conferences, or to really be successful as independents either. Schools do drop football programs.

University of Idaho and Idaho State U of Boise (aka Boise State University) both are praying to get in. PAC-12-14-16-20 or W-S-E would’ve let Cal St U, Long Beach in too, but they couldn’t secure the name Cal St. Since that is where the HQ for CSU’s are located. Sacramento St is hoping to someday re-brand themselves Cal St instead. Plus, USC and UCLA are both only couple of miles away from CSULB so they are playing duopoly in the Southern Cal turf.

Oh yeah! BYU too!

VYL has no clue…..but regarding the NMSU addition…..why the heck didn’t the Sunbelt do this before the 2013 schedule came out? Nine teams for 2013 would have enabled a balanced four home/four away conference schedule….

Perhaps because many of the Sun Belt teams had non-conference games scheduled and they would have to pass up big paydays and buy their way out of last minute contracts.