Yesterday brought multiple reports that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will be shedding their FCS labels for Sun Belt membership, with speculation shifting to when a pair of erstwhile WAC members would jump to the same conference.
Rest easy, America. That question has been answered.
First reported by CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd and confirmed by ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy, Idaho and New Mexico State will join the Sun Belt Conference as football-only members beginning in 2014. An official announcement from the schools and their new league is expected to be made as early as Thursday.
An announcement on Appalachian State and Georgia Southern is expected Wednesday.
Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a conference home as the WAC disbanded as a league football-wise following the 2012 season and thanks to myriad departures. Both programs will play as football independents in 2013 before joining forces with the Sun Belt the following season.
The four additions will give the Sun Belt 12 football-playing members (for now) beginning in 2014, with just six of those — Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky — being current members. Along with the four previously-mentioned schools in 2014, Georgia State and Texas State will join in 2013. UT-Arlington will join as a non-football member this year as well.
FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee and North Texas are officially leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA in July.
Once all of the expansion dust settles — if it actually settles — the Sun Belt is expected to conduct a conference championship game. Dodd reported that the game will be an on-campus affair.
(Photo credit: Idaho athletics)