Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson will announce in a Thursday teleconference he is “leaving” his post, according to Tim Buckley of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.
Benson, 67, is expected to work through the end of his contract, which expires in June. He is a career college administrator, working on the NCAA’s championship staff before beginning a near 30-year run as a conference commissioner, first with the MAC (1990-94), the WAC (1994-2012) and then the Sun Belt (2012-present). Benson is the Sun Belt’s fifth commissioner, having succeeded Wright Waters, who led the league for 13 years. Before him, current Mountain West commish Craig Thompson ran the conference from 1991-98.
Benson led the Sun Belt as it survived a raid from Conference USA, re-stocking the roster with the additions of Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State and Texas State. He also made the tough but necessary decision to boot Idaho and New Mexico State, anchoring the conference in its southeastern footprint.
The Sun Belt will stage its first championship game this fall, splitting into two 5-team divisions. Benson also oversaw the expansion of the Sun Belt’s bowl roster to five.
He claimed at SBC media days last month the league’s annual distribution to its schools has grown tenfold since 2014, though he declined to provide specific numbers.
“Every key indicator that can be used to evaluate the strength of a conference has indeed risen for the Sun Belt in the past four years,” Benson said last month.