The Sun Belt Conference made one more addition, as expected, today – and that is the last membership change the league plans.
At least for now, that is.
The addition, effective July 1, 2013, is Texas-Arlington, which will come in from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Southland Conference as a non-football-playing member.
The announcement came at the end of the Sun Belt’s annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and in conjunction with word that the conference has tabled – at least for the immediate future – the possibility of expanding to 14 members, including 12 football-playing programs, so that it can stage a football championship game.
That means the Sun Belt, starting in the summer of 2013, will have a lineup of UL-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, UL Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky, plus non-football-playing Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington.
“The SBC presidents and chancellors,” Sun Belt president and Troy chancellor Jack Hawks said during a conference call late this morning, “are very well pleased and satisfied with the 12-team structure.
“However,” he added, “the SBC will continue to monitor the landscape of conferences across the country, and, if changes occur, we will be prepared to take the action that might be necessary.”
The league also addressed plans for geography-based division alignment starting in 2013, revealed a new five-year strategic plan and defended its recent changes in membership.
According to a statement from the conference, “it is the opinion of Sun Belt leadership that (the conference) has been proactive throughout the realignment process and the changes that have taken place to the league’s membership have not weakened the conference.
“In fact,” the statement continued, “the league’s membership and strength have been bolstered while several other conferences have taken steps backwards during the realignment process.”
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