Georgia Southern moves to Sun Belt Conference

dshirley@macon.comJuly 1, 2014 

Georgia Southern’s athletics department entered a new era Tuesday as it moved into the Sun Belt Conference after years in the Southern Conference.

The move coincides with the Eagles football team’s move from the FCS level to FBS play.

Appalachian State, Idaho and New Mexico State also officially joined the Sun Belt. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are full members, while Idaho and New Mexico State are football-only members.

“The additions of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, along with Idaho and New Mexico State, put the Sun Belt Conference in a great spot in the national landscape of college football,” Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said in a release. “Expectations will be high this season after the (Sun Belt) had its best football season in league history last year, and I know expectations and excitement will be at all-time highs for Appalachian State and Georgia Southern with their jumps from FCS to the FBS level.

“While Idaho and New Mexico State are both undergoing a rebuilding process, I am very confident it won’t be long before the Vandals and Aggies are going to bowl games and contending for the Sun Belt football championship.”

The additions lift the Sun Belt all-sports membership to 11 schools. The conference also has 11 football-playing members, as two all-sports members do not sponsor football. The other full members are Arkansas-Little Rock (non-football), Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas-Arlington (non-football), Texas State and Troy.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will be immediately eligible to compete for Sun Belt championships in all sports but will not be eligible for bowl games until the 2015 season.

Georgia Southern joined the Southern Conference in most sports in 1992. The Eagles joined the Southern Conference in football in 1993.

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