The Sun Belt Conference is investigating the possibility of adding to its roster of schools, several sources reported this week.
The Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News reported Thursday that the conference is interested in the Conway, S.C. school as part of a proposed plan that would involve the creation of East and West divisions in the league.
Coastal Carolina Director of Athletics Matt Hogue confirmed the talks to Ryan Young, who covers the CCU beat for the Sun News.
“We’ve been contacted and we’ve had some discussion and that’s really the extent at this point,” Hogue said. “That’s where we are. We can acknowledge that they have contacted us, and certainly our stance has always been we would explore any opportunities that are presented to us.”
Hogue also stated that the talks were part of an exploratory plan from the league’s offices.
“They did initiate the contact. We’ve really just kind of been trading information,” he said. “We’re learning a little about them and they’re learning about us.”
The Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser first reported the talks, quoting Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson.
“I think Eastern Kentucky has been public in declaring their interest in moving up to FBS. I think that Coastal Carolina has not made that public statement,” said Benson to the newspaper. “So has Eastern Kentucky contacted the Sun Belt? Yes. Have we had conversation with Coastal Carolina and others? Yes. That’s about all I can say.”
Benson largely echoed those comments on Twitter Thursday, closing with the same statement:
Have we had conversation with Coastal Carolina and others? Yes. That’s all I can say.
— Karl Benson (@kbcommish) July 23, 2015
Coastal is one of two Big South schools who appear to have aspirations — public or otherwise — of playing FBS football. Liberty University, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, has expressed interest on several occasions. The Daily Advertiser piece, however, stated that Liberty has “not made any discernible progress” with the league.
11 schools currently play football in the conference, including Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Idaho, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy.
No timetable has been finalized for when — or if — the conference will announce its expansion.