It’s been a few weeks coming, but Georgia State will officially join the Sun Belt beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, the school announced today.
“On behalf of the presidents and chancellors of the member institutions of the Sun Belt Conference, I am pleased to welcome Georgia State University home to the league that it helped start in 1976,” said Sun Belt Conference President and Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins in a statement. “The Sun Belt Conference has never been stronger athletically, academically or financially, and today we took action that makes us even stronger. For the Sun Belt Conference– the best is yet to be!”
Georgia State was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference, but left the conference in 1981. The school began play in football in 2010 under head coach Bill Curry.
“The addition of Georgia State to the Sun Belt Conference provides further strength for our league and is the beginning of a new era for GSU that will unquestionably be a time of great success for the Panther athletic program,” added Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. “We strongly believe that the addition of GSU will continue to help the Sun Belt Conference in its rise to prominence.”
The move has been worked through the rumor mill for the past several weeks. Upon taking over as SBC commissioner in February Benson said expansion would be one of his first priorities. Less than a week later, GSU announced it had hired a consulting group to explore the feasibility of a FBS jump. GSU is currently a member of the Colonial Athletic Association at the FCS level.
The announcement also comes as Conference USA and the Mountain West are exploring a merger. Though no official announcement has been made on that front, the MWC’s cable channel, “The Mtn”, has closed. A newly merged conference between C-USA and the MWC could also expand; several Sun Belt schools are expected to be targets of that expansion, including Middle Tennessee, FIU and North Texas.
Sun Belt member FAU said late last month it has not received an invite to any new conference.