Sun Belt Conference

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Sun Belt Conference
AssociationNCAA
Founded1976
CommissionerKeith Gill (since 2019)
Sports fielded
  • 19
    • men's: 9
    • women's: 10
DivisionDivision I
SubdivisionFBS
No. of teams14
HeadquartersNew Orleans, Louisiana
RegionSouthern United States
Official websitewww.sunbeltsports.org
Locations
Location of teams in {{{title}}}

The Sun Belt Conference (SBC) is a collegiate athletic conference that has been affiliated with the NCAA's Division I since 1976. Originally a non-football conference, the Sun Belt began sponsoring football in 2001. Its football teams participate in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The 14 member institutions of the Sun Belt are distributed across the Southern United States.

History[edit]

Original Sun Belt logo from 1976.

The Sun Belt Conference was founded on August 4, 1976, with the University of New Orleans, the University of South Alabama, Georgia State University, Jacksonville University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of South Florida. Over the next ten years the conference would add Western Kentucky University, Old Dominion University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Virginia Commonwealth University. New Orleans was forced out of the league in 1980 due to its small on-campus gymnasium that the conference did not deem suitable for conference competition. New Orleans competed as an independent before joining the newly formed American South Conference in 1987.

After the 1990–91 basketball season, all members of the Sun Belt, except Western Kentucky, South Alabama, and Jacksonville, departed for other conferences. The Sun Belt, including incoming member in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, then merged with the American South Conference, made up of Arkansas State University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), the University of Texas–Pan American (now merged into the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), New Orleans (re-joined), Lamar University, and the University of Central Florida. Although the American South was the larger conference, the merged league retained the Sun Belt name. In 1991, the league first began to explore the idea of sponsoring football.[1]

Central Florida left the league following the 1991–92 academic year due to a dispute over television rights, among other reasons.[2][3] Lamar, Texas–Pan American, and Jacksonville departed at the end of the 1997–98 academic year. Florida International University joined the Sun Belt in 1998, and the University of Denver was added in 1999. Louisiana Tech departed after the 2000–01 academic year.

The Sun Belt Conference headquarters are currently housed at the Caesars Superdome.

The conference did not sponsor football until 2001, when the league added former Big West Conference members New Mexico State University and the University of North Texas and former Ohio Valley Conference member (an FBS Independent on football) Middle Tennessee State University as full members (all three of them joined a year earlier for all sports in the 2000-01 school year) and added FBS Independent University of Louisiana at Monroe and Big West member University of Idaho as football-only members. These new members gave the Sun Belt seven football playing members in their first season, as Arkansas State and Louisiana were already full members which sponsored football. Another Big West school, Utah State University, was added as a football-only member in 2003, then departed in 2005 with Idaho and New Mexico State for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

In 2004, Troy University became a football-only member before joining for all sports in the 2005–06 academic year. In 2005, Florida Atlantic became a football-only member before joining for all sports in the 2006-07 academic year. In 2006, Louisiana–Monroe joined the conference as an all-sports full member when the Warhawks left their former home, the Southland Conference.

Longtime Sun Belt member Western Kentucky joined the Sun Belt's football conference in 2009 after its board of regents voted to upgrade the school's football program to Division I FBS.[4]

On November 11, 2009, New Orleans announced it was investigating a move from Division I to the NCAA's Division III. In order to maintain athletic scholarships, UNO instead opted for entry into Division II. On April 20, 2011, UNO officially received transition approval from the NCAA Division II Membership Committee.[5] (UNO later decided to remain in Division I, and joined the Southland Conference in 2013.)

Early 2010s realignment[edit]

The former Sun Belt Conference logo used until its rebranding in 2013

On April 9, 2012, Georgia State, one of the founding members of the Sun Belt Conference, announced that it would be returning to the conference as a full member in 2013. As part of the move, the football program began a transition from FCS to FBS in the 2012 season; it played a full Sun Belt schedule as a "transitional" FBS member in 2013, and became a full FBS member, with bowl eligibility, in 2014.[6] On May 2, 2012, Texas State University announced it would leave the WAC after just one year and join the Sun Belt in July 2013 to begin play for the 2013–14 academic year. At the press conference to announce Texas State's addition, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson also hinted that more changes could be on the way for the conference.[7] On May 25, 2012, the conference announced that the University of Texas at Arlington (a non-football member) had accepted an invitation to join the conference and would become a full member by 2013.[8]

On May 4, 2012, FIU and North Texas announced that they would be leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA on July 1, 2013 as part of a Conference USA expansion effort involving four other schools.[9] On November 29, 2012, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State announced that they would also leave the Sun Belt for Conference USA.[10] The move for Florida Atlantic and MTSU was originally scheduled to take place in 2014; however, the two schools announced on January 28, 2013 that they would leave for Conference USA a year early, departing on July 1, 2013 with FIU and North Texas. Western Kentucky also accepted an invitation to join Conference USA on April 1, 2013, and departed from the Sun Belt on July 1, 2014.[11]

These moves depleted the Sun Belt and made the need to expand their membership more urgent than ever, as the Sun Belt was left with ten full members and only eight members that sponsor football (the minimum number required for a conference to sponsor football at the FBS level) for the 2013 season. Appalachian State University accepted an invitation on March 27, 2013 to join the Sun Belt effective July 1, 2014.[12] Georgia Southern University accepted a similar Sun Belt invitation at the same time as Appalachian State.[13] Appalachian State and Georgia Southern both joined for all sports from the Southern Conference on July 1, 2014. Both schools had been very successful within the Football Championship Subdivision, combining to win nine national championships since 1985. They upgraded to the Football Bowl Subdivision, and were eligible for Sun Belt conference championships in 2014, but were not postseason-eligible in football until 2015.

The Sun Belt also granted football-only invites to Idaho and New Mexico State on March 28, 2013.[14] Idaho and New Mexico State were both former Sun Belt members (Idaho for football only, New Mexico State for all sports) from 2001 to 2005. The large number of defections from the WAC forced that conference to drop football after the 2012 season. Idaho and New Mexico State were the only remaining WAC members that sponsored football, and competed as FBS independents for the 2013 season before competing in the Sun Belt in 2014. Idaho is located by far the farthest away from the other Sun Belt conference members, but it was rejected by the Mountain West Conference,[15] leaving it with no other choice.[16][17]

On September 1, 2015, Coastal Carolina University accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference. The university joined in all sports except for football starting July 1, 2016, with football joining in 2017.[18]

The conference announced on March 1, 2016, that the affiliation agreement with Idaho and New Mexico State would not be extended past the 2017 season.[19]

The conference announced that beginning in 2018, the conference (10 teams) would be divided into two divisions for football: East: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Troy; West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana–Monroe, South Alabama, and Texas State. The winner of each division will meet in the Sun Belt Championship game.[20]

Early 2020s realignment[edit]

Following the July 30, 2021 announcement of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma both moving from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference,[21] the world of college athletics faced the prospect of realignment once again. The Big 12 responded on September 10 by adding three schools from the American Athletic Conference (The American) and BYU, an FBS independent and otherwise a member of the non-football West Coast Conference, effective in 2023.[22] The American in turn responded on October 21 by adding six schools from Conference USA (C-USA), with 2023 as the most likely entry date.[23][24] Following this move, rumors began to circulate that the Sun Belt was planning to take on another three members (the University of Southern Mississippi (Southern Miss or USM), Marshall University, and former Sun Belt member Old Dominion University) from C-USA, likely in response to that conference's remaining teams worried of the conference folding.[25] These moves would help to establish the market areas for the Sun Belt and The American, which cover similar geographic footprints. The American would now have most of its members in metropolitan areas, while the Sun Belt would instead have its members in smaller college towns.

On October 22, The Action Network reported that Southern Miss had been accepted as a new Sun Belt member, with 2023 as the likely entry date. The report also stated that the Sun Belt would add three more members—the aforementioned Marshall and Old Dominion, plus James Madison University, a member of the FCS Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).[26] Southern Miss[27] and Old Dominion[28] were respectively announced as incoming members on October 26 and 27. At the time, both were to join no later than 2023. On October 29, the day after Marshall named its next president,[29] both the Sun Belt and Marshall issued tweets announcing that school's entry; a formal announcement followed the next day[30] and an introductory press conference was held on November 1.[31] As for James Madison, its board met on October 29 to discuss a potential Sun Belt invitation, but its timeline was also affected by a Virginia state law that requires legislative approval for a four-year public school to move upward in athletic classification, including FCS to FBS. The legislative committee that must review the move did not meet until November 5, after the state's gubernatorial election.[32] The committee unanimously approved JMU's move from FCS to FBS, and the Sun Belt move was officially announced on November 6.[33][34] The original Action Network report also stated that the two full non-football SBC members, Little Rock and UT Arlington, would no longer be members of the conference after the 2022–23 school year.[26]

Initial plans were for James Madison to compete as a de facto Sun Belt affiliate in sports other than football and men's soccer during the 2022–23 season.[35] However, those plans would eventually change, with JMU and the SBC jointly announcing on February 2, 2022 that JMU would become a full SBC member, including football, in 2022–23.[36]

By the end of January 2022, both non-football members would announce their departures for other conferences, effective that July. On December 8, 2021, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted to accept an invitation for Little Rock to join the Ohio Valley Conference,[37] and UT Arlington, which had been a Western Athletic Conference member in the 2012–13 school year, announced its return to that conference on January 21, 2022.[38]

Shortly thereafter, Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss announced that they planned to leave C-USA for the Sun Belt in July 2022. They claimed to have notified C-USA of their plans in December 2021, apparently seeking to negotiate a 2022 exit. C-USA had indicated in late January 2022 that it expected the three schools to remain in that league through the 2022–23 school year.[39] Marshall escalated the situation by filing suit against C-USA in its local court in an attempt to force a 2022 move.[40] On March 29, Conference USA agreed to let Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss move to the Sun Belt starting July 1, 2022.[41]

On April 6, with the entrance of three new men's soccer-sponsoring schools in James Madison, Marshall, and Old Dominion, the Sun Belt announced that men's soccer would be reinstated as a sponsored sport. The three aforementioned programs joined current Sun Belt members Coastal Carolina (previously affiliates with Conference USA) as well as Georgia State and Georgia Southern (previously affiliates with the Mid-American Conference). Additionally, it was announced that Kentucky, South Carolina, and West Virginia would join as men's soccer affiliate members beginning in fall 2022, giving the conference an inaugural soccer membership of 9.[42] Kentucky and South Carolina were previously also affiliated with C-USA, while West Virginia was affiliated with the MAC. The SBC later announced it would add UCF as a men's soccer affiliate when that school joined the Big 12 Conference in 2023.[43] In men's soccer, the conference is not a "mid-major" conference, but a "power" conference due to the quasi-alliance of the Big 12 and SEC schools, plus the presence of a recent national champion in Marshall.

On June 6, the SBC presidents & chancellors approved adding two new women's sports, beach volleyball and swimming & diving, no later than the 2023–24 school year. They also announced that the conference would explore adding another women's sport, field hockey, at an undetermined future date.[44]

On January 18, 2023, the SBC officially announced that its beach volleyball league would launch that spring, with the four full members sponsoring the sport joined by Charleston, Mercer, UNC Wilmington, and Stephen F. Austin as affiliate members.[45]

On August 17, 2023, the SBC officially announced the return of women's swimming and diving as a sponsored sport.[46]

Member schools[edit]

Current full members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment Endowment
(millions)
Nickname Colors
East Division
Appalachian State University Boone, North Carolina 1899 2014 Public 20,023[47] $150[48] Mountaineers    
Coastal Carolina University Conway, South Carolina 1954 2016 10,894[49] $54.7 Chanticleers      
Georgia Southern University Statesboro, Georgia 1906 2014 26,106[50] $277.1 Eagles    
Georgia State University Atlanta, Georgia 1913 1976[a] 50,521[51] $179 Panthers    
James Madison University Harrisonburg, Virginia 1908 2022 21,496 $154.7 Dukes    
Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia 1837 2022 11,962[52] $192[53] Thundering Herd    
Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia 1930 1982[b] 24,286[54] $265.8[55] Monarchs      
West Division
Arkansas State University Jonesboro, Arkansas 1909 1991 Public 14,109[56] $113 Red Wolves    
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, Louisiana 1898 1991 19,188[57] $232 Ragin' Cajuns    
University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, Louisiana 1931 2006[c] 9,060[58] $73 Warhawks    
University of South Alabama Mobile, Alabama 1963 1976 14,834[59] $667[60] Jaguars      
University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1910 2022 14,606[61] $136.3[62] Golden Eagles    
Texas State University San Marcos, Texas 1899 2013 38,231[63] $342 Bobcats    
Troy University Troy, Alabama 1887 2005[d] 17,494[64] $192.2[65] Trojans      
Notes
  1. ^ Georgia State left after the 1980–81 school year, then rejoined effective the 2013–14 school year.
  2. ^ Old Dominion left after the 1990–91 school year, then rejoined effective the 2022–23 school year.
  3. ^ Louisiana–Monroe was an affiliate member in football from the 2001 to 2005 fall seasons (2001-02 to 2005-06 school years).
  4. ^ Troy was an affiliate member in football during the 2004 fall season (2004–05 school year).

Affiliate members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment Nickname Colors Sport Primary
conference
College of Charleston Charleston, South Carolina 1770 2022 Public 10,468 Cougars     Beach volleyball CAA
University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky 1865 32,710 Wildcats     Soccer (m) SEC
Mercer University Macon, Georgia 1833 Private 8,740 Bears     Beach volleyball SoCon
University of South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina 1801 Public 35,364 Gamecocks     Soccer (m) SEC
Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, Texas 1923 11,946 Ladyjacks     Beach volleyball WAC
University of Central Florida
(UCF)
Orlando, Florida 1963 2023 70,406 Knights     Soccer (m) Big 12
University of North Carolina Wilmington
(UNCW)
Wilmington, North Carolina 1947 2022 14,765 Seahawks       Beach volleyball CAA
West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia 1867 26,269 Mountaineers     Soccer (m) Big 12
  • The four beach volleyball associates (Charleston, Mercer, Stephen F. Austin, and UNCW) are listed as having joined in 2022, even though they were not announced as incoming affiliates until January 2023. The SBC's first beach volleyball season of 2023, which featured the four schools, was part of the 2022–23 school year.

Former full members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Left Type Nickname Colors Subsequent
conference
Current
conference
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, Alabama 1969 1979 1991 Public Blazers     Great Midwest The American
University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida 1963 1991 1992 Knights     ASUN Big 12
University of Denver Denver, Colorado 1864 1999 2012 Private Pioneers     WAC Summit
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1961 2006[a] 2013 Public Owls     CUSA The American
Florida International University Miami, Florida 1965 1998 Panthers     CUSA
Jacksonville University Jacksonville, Florida 1934 1976 1998 Private Dolphins     ASUN
Lamar University Beaumont, Texas 1923 1991 Public Cardinals     Southland
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, Arkansas 1927 1991 2022 Trojans       OVC
Louisiana Tech University Ruston, Louisiana 1894 1991 2001 Bulldogs & Lady Techsters     WAC CUSA
Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, Tennessee 1911 2000 2013 Blue Raiders     CUSA
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico 1888 2005[b] Aggies     WAC CUSA
University of New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana 1958 1976 1980 Privateers       D-I Independent Southland
1991 2010 D-I Independent
University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina 1946 1976 1991 49ers     Metro The American
University of North Texas Denton, Texas 1890 2000 2013 Mean Green     CUSA The American
University of South Florida Tampa, Florida 1956 1976 1991 Bulls     Metro The American
University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, Texas 1895 2013 2022 Mavericks       WAC
University of Texas–Pan American[c] Edinburg, Texas 1927 1991 1998 Broncs     Independent WAC
(as UTRGV Vaqueros)
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, Virginia 1838 1979 1991 Rams     Metro Atlantic 10
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, Kentucky 1906 1982 2014 Hilltoppers & Lady Toppers     CUSA
Notes
  1. ^ Florida Atlantic was an affiliate member for football during the 2005 fall season (2005–06 school year).
  2. ^ New Mexico State was a full member from 2000–01 to 2004–05 and an affiliate member for football from the 2014 to 2017 fall seasons (2014–15 to 2017–18 school years).
  3. ^ Texas–Pan American was merged into UTRGV in 2015; the merged school inherited UTPA's athletic program, with the new nickname of Vaqueros, and membership in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

Former affiliate members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Left Type Nickname Colors Sport Conference
in former
Sun Belt sport[a]
University of Central Arkansas Conway, Arkansas 1907 2019 2021 Public Bears[b]     soccer (m) ASUN
Hartwick College Oneonta, New York 1797 2014 2018 Private Hawks     Empire 8
(NCAA D-III)
Howard University Washington, D.C. 1867 2021[c] Bison     Northeast
University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho 1889 2001 2005 Public Vandals     football Big Sky
2014 2018
New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, New Jersey 1881 2016 Highlanders     soccer (m) America East
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico 1888 2018 Aggies     football CUSA
Utah State University Logan, Utah 2003 2005 Aggies       Mountain West
Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee 1873 1995 1997 Private Commodores     soccer (m) none[d]
Notes
  1. ^ In all cases except those of Howard and Vanderbilt, this matches the school's primary conference affiliation. Howard is a full member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, including FCS football. Vanderbilt has been a full member of the Southeastern Conference since that league's creation in 1932.
  2. ^ Central Arkansas uses "Bears" only for men's teams, with women's teams known as "Sugar Bears". Men's soccer was the school's only Sun Belt sport.
  3. ^ Due to COVID-19 concerns, Howard chose not to play soccer in the 2020–21 school year, although the Sun Belt chose to hold a men's soccer season, with the four remaining men's soccer members playing a fall conference schedule and spring non-conference games to accommodate the NCAA's move of the Division I tournament from fall 2020 to spring 2021.
  4. ^ Vanderbilt dropped men's soccer after the 2005 fall season (2005–06 school year). It has been a full member of the Southeastern Conference since 1932.

Membership timeline[edit]

Conference USAMetro ConferenceConference USAMid-American ConferenceSouthern ConferenceColonial Athletic AssociationBig South ConferenceSouthern ConferenceTrans Atlantic Athletic ConferenceSouthern ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceSouthland ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceSouthland ConferenceGulf South ConferenceLone Star ConferenceAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USAAtlantic Sun ConferenceASUN ConferenceSummit LeagueEast Coast Conference (Division I)NCAA Division II independent schoolsGulf South ConferenceMountain West ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceBig West ConferenceSouthland ConferenceBig Sky ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceBig West ConferenceBig Sky ConferenceAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USABig West ConferenceSouthland ConferenceConference USAWestern Athletic ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceBig West ConferenceMissouri Valley ConferenceConference USAOhio Valley ConferenceSummit LeagueWestern Athletic ConferenceConference USATrans Atlantic Athletic ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceGreat West ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceTrans Atlantic Athletic ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceSouthland ConferenceConference USAWestern Athletic ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceSouthland ConferenceSouthland ConferenceWestern Athletic ConferenceSouthland ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceSouthland ConferenceAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USATrans America Athletic ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceOhio Valley ConferenceTrans America Athletic ConferenceArkansas Intercollegiate ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceSouthland ConferenceConference USAOhio Valley ConferenceConference USAColonial Athletic AssociationColonial Athletic AssociationAtlantic 10 ConferenceColonial Athletic AssociationMetro ConferenceAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USAGreat Midwest ConferenceAmerican Athletic ConferenceBig East ConferenceConference USAMetro ConferenceAmerican Athletic ConferenceConference USAAtlantic 10 ConferenceConference USAMetro ConferenceSouthland ConferenceAmerican South ConferenceTrans America Athletic ConferenceColonial Athletic AssociationTrans America Athletic Conference

 Full members (all sports)   Full members (non-football)   Associate members (football-only)   Associate members (other)  Other Conference Other Conference

Commissioners[edit]

Vic Bubas was the Sun Belt Conference's first commissioner, successfully creating what was initially a premier mid-major basketball league.

In addition to the five Sun Belt commissioners, three future league leaders served on the Sun Belt staff prior to becoming conference commissioners, including Doug Elgin (Missouri Valley), John Iamarino (Northeast, Southern), and Tom Burnett (Southland).

On October 12, 2011, ESPN reported that Wright Waters would retire, effective July 1, 2012.[66] On February 15, 2012, Karl Benson was hired as the new commissioner of the Sun Belt, after having been the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference for 17 years. Waters would later move his departure date to March 15, allowing Benson to take over at that time.[6]

Keith Gill was named the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference on March 18, 2019. He is the first African American to lead any FBS conference.[67][68]

Sports[edit]

As of the current 2023–24 school year, the Sun Belt Conference sponsors championship competition in nine men's and eleven women's NCAA sanctioned sports.[69] The most recent change to sports sponsorship was the reinstatement of women's swimming & diving in 2023–24.

When Marshall was formally introduced as an incoming Sun Belt member, SBC commissioner Keith Gill also announced that the conference would reinstate men's soccer once all new members joined. Men's soccer resumed play in 2022–23 with six full members joined by three associates. Beach volleyball started play with eight members, evenly divided between full members and associates.

Teams in Sun Belt competition[a]
Sport Men's Women's
Baseball 14
Basketball 14 14
Beach Volleyball 8
Cross Country 9 13
Football 14
Golf 14 13
Soccer 10 14
Softball 12
Swimming & Diving 4
Tennis 9 14
Track & Field Indoor 7 13
Track & Field Outdoor 10 13
Volleyball 14
  1. ^ Numbers of teams are as of the 2023–24 school year.

Men's sponsored sports by school[edit]

Member-by-member sponsorship of the nine men's SBC sports for the 2023–24 academic year.

School Baseball Basketball Cross
Country
Football Golf Soccer Tennis Track
& Field
Indoor
Track
& Field
Outdoor
Total
Sun Belt
Sports
Appalachian State Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes 6
Arkansas State Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes 7
Coastal Carolina Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes 8
Georgia Southern Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No 6
Georgia State Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No 6
James Madison Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No 6
Louisiana Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes 8
Louisiana–Monroe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes 7
Marshall Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes 8
Old Dominion Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No 6
South Alabama Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes 8
Southern Miss Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes 7
Texas State Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes 7
Troy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No Yes 7
Totals 14 14 9 14 14 6+4 9 7 10 97+4
Affiliate members
Kentucky Yes 1
South Carolina Yes 1
UCF Yes 1
West Virginia Yes 1

Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Sun Belt[edit]

School Sailing[a] Swimming &
Diving
Wrestling
Appalachian State SoCon
Old Dominion Independent ASUN
  1. ^ Sailing is a coeducational sport not governed by the NCAA, but instead by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association.

Women's sponsored sports by school[edit]

Member-by-member sponsorship of the 11 women's SBC sports for the 2023–24 academic year.

School Basketball Beach
Volleyball
Cross
Country
Golf Soccer Softball Swimming
& Diving
Tennis Track
& Field
Indoor
Track
& Field
Outdoor
Volleyball Total
Sun Belt
Sports
Appalachian State Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 9
Arkansas State Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes 8
Coastal Carolina Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
Georgia Southern Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
Georgia State Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
James Madison Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
Louisiana Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 8
Louisiana–Monroe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
Marshall Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
Old Dominion Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No Yes 6
South Alabama Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 9
Southern Miss Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 10
Texas State Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 9
Troy Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 9
Totals 14 4+4 13 13 14 12 4 14 13 13 14 128+4
Affiliate members
Charleston Yes 1
Mercer Yes 1
Stephen F. Austin Yes 1
UNCW Yes 1

Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Sun Belt[edit]

School Bowling Field
Hockey
Lacrosse Rifle Rowing Sailing[a]
Appalachian State MAC
Arkansas State CUSA
Coastal Carolina ASUN
Georgia Southern SoCon
James Madison Independent[b] American
Old Dominion Big East American American[c] Independent
  1. ^ Sailing is a coeducational sport not governed by the NCAA, but instead by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association.
  2. ^ James Madison will join the MAC for field hockey in 2024.
  3. ^ Joining the Big 12 in 2024-25.

Championships[edit]

"RS" is regular season, "T" is tournament. Championships from the previous academic year are flagged with the calendar year in which the most recent season or tournament ended.

Current Sun Belt champions[edit]

NCAA champions[edit]

The only school to have won a national title while an SBC member is Old Dominion, which won one title in women's basketball and five in the non-SBC sport of field hockey during its first conference tenure from 1982 to 1991. Six other current members have won NCAA Division I team championships prior to joining the conference. Coastal Carolina won its only D-I national title on the day before it officially joined the SBC, while representing the Big South Conference.

School NCAA
titles
Sport Years
Old Dominion
10
Women's basketball 1985
Field hockey 198219831984198819901991199219982000
Georgia Southern
6
Football (Division I-AA/FCS) 198519861989199019992000
James Madison
5
Field hockey 1994
Archery 1995
Football (Division I-AA/FCS) 20042016
Women's lacrosse 2018
Appalachian State
3
Football (Division I-AA/FCS) 200520062007
Marshall
3
Football (Division I-AA/FCS) 19921996
Men's soccer 2020
Louisiana–Monroe
1
Football (Division I-AA/FCS) 1987
Coastal Carolina
1
Baseball 2016
Total 29

See also: List of NCAA schools with the most NCAA Division I championships, List of NCAA schools with the most Division I national championships, and NCAA Division I FBS Conferences

Football[edit]

For more information see Sun Belt Conference football. For the current season, see 2023 Sun Belt Conference football season.

West Division East Division
Arkansas State Appalachian State
Louisiana Coastal Carolina
Louisiana-Monroe Georgia Southern
South Alabama Georgia State
Southern Miss James Madison
Texas State Marshall
Troy Old Dominion

The Sun Belt first began sponsoring football in 2001. It originally consisted of seven football playing schools, three of which are still members of the conference. Up until 2009, the conference only had a contract with one bowl, the New Orleans Bowl. Following the Sun Belt's improved football success and geographical membership changes, other bowls began to sign contracts with the Sun Belt Conference. As of October 2021, the conference has seven bowl game tie-ins (Cure, Boca Raton, LendingTree, New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, Frisco, and Camellia)

Throughout the years, the conference has experienced flux in membership changes, similar to many other FBS conferences. The conference announced that beginning in 2018, the conference (10 teams after the departure of Idaho and New Mexico State)[70] would be divided into two divisions for football: East: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Troy; West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana–Monroe, South Alabama, and Texas State. The divisional alignments changed again with the 2022 expansion, with the new dividing line being the Alabama–Georgia border. The winner of each division will meet in the Sun Belt Championship game.[71]

[72][when?][failed verification]

Team First
season
All-Time
record
All-Time
win %
Bowl
appearances
Bowl
record
All-Time
Conference
titles
Current
Head Coach
Appalachian State 1928 653–349–28 .648 7 6–1 22 Shawn Clark
Arkansas State 1911 487–509–37 .489 10 4–6 14 Butch Jones
Coastal Carolina 2003 157–81 .660 2 1–1 9 Tim Beck
Georgia Southern 1924 407–240–10 .627 4 3–1 11 Clay Helton
Georgia State 2010 50–92 .352 5 3–2 0 Shawn Elliott
James Madison 1972 351–220-4 .614 0 0–0 10 Bob Chesney
Louisiana 1901 553–563–34 .496 7 5–2 13 Michael Desormeaux
Louisiana–Monroe 1951 319–446–8 .418 1 0–1 5 Terry Bowden
Marshall 1895 623–563–47 .524 18 12–6 13 Charles Huff
Old Dominion 1930 125–99–4 .557 2 1–1 0 Ricky Rahne
Southern Miss 1912 607–447-27 .574 24 11–13 8 Will Hall
South Alabama 2009 66–83 .443 2 0–2 0 Kane Wommack
Texas State 1904 522–486–25 .517 0 0–0 12 G. J. Kinne
Troy 1909 554–424–28 .565 8 5–3 21 Gerard Parker

Sun Belt champions[edit]

Since the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS season, the Sun Belt Conference has held a football championship game.[73]

Season Champion Conference
record
2001 Middle Tennessee State
North Texas
5–1
2002 North Texas
6–0
2003 North Texas
7–0
2004 North Texas
7–0
2005 Arkansas State
Louisiana–Lafayette
Louisiana–Monroe
5–2
2006 Middle Tennessee State
Troy
6–1
2007 Florida Atlantic
Troy
6–1
2008 Troy
6–1
2009 Troy
8–0
2010 Florida International
Troy
6–2
2011 Arkansas State
8–0
2012 Arkansas State
7–1
2013* Arkansas State
5–2
2014 Georgia Southern
8–0
2015 Arkansas State
8–0
2016 Appalachian State
Arkansas State
7–1
2017 Appalachian State
Troy
7–1
2018 Appalachian State
7–1
2019 Appalachian State
7–1
2020 Coastal Carolina
Louisiana
8–0
7–1
2021 Louisiana
8–0
2022 Troy
7–1
2023 Troy
7–1
Notes
  • Louisiana–Lafayette vacated 2013 shared Sun Belt Conference co-championship due to major NCAA violations.[74]
  • The 2020 championship game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues; the divisional champions were declared league co-champions.

Bowl games[edit]

As of the 2022–23 NCAA football bowl games, the Sun Belt Conference has tie-ins with the following bowl games: [75]

Name Location Opposing
conference
Camellia Bowl Montgomery, Alabama MAC
Cure Bowl Orlando, Florida The American
LendingTree Bowl Mobile, Alabama MAC
Myrtle Beach Bowl Conway, South Carolina C–USA/MAC
New Orleans Bowl New Orleans, Louisiana C–USA

Football rivalries[edit]

Football rivalries involving Sun Belt teams include:

Teams Rivalry
Name
Trophy Meetings
(last)
Record Series
Leader
Appalachian State Georgia Southern Deeper Than Hate 36
(2021)
20–15–1 Appalachian State
Appalachian State Marshall Old Mountain Feud 25
(2022)
15–10 Appalachian State
Georgia State Georgia Southern Modern Day Hate 9
(2022)
6–3 Georgia State
James Madison Old Dominion Royal Rivalry
(all sports)
Crown 4
(2023)
2–2 Tied
Louisiana Louisiana–Monroe Battle on the Bayou Wooden Boot 58
(2022)
31–26 Louisiana
South Alabama Troy Battle for the Belt Belt 11
(2022)
8–3 Troy

Basketball[edit]

Men's basketball[edit]

This list goes through the 2021–22 season.[76]

Team First
season
All-time
record
All-time
win %
NCAA Tournament
appearances
NCAA Tournament
record
Arena Head coach
Appalachian State 1919–20 1263–1162 .521 3 0–3 Holmes Center Dustin Kerns
Arkansas State 1926–27 1183–1184 .500 1 0–1 First National Bank Arena Bryan Hodgson
Coastal Carolina 1974–75 711–680 .511 4 0–4 HTC Center Cliff Ellis
Georgia Southern 1926–27 1289–1014 .560 3 0–3 Hanner Fieldhouse Brian Burg
Georgia State 1963–64 668–954 .412 6 2–6 Georgia State Convocation Center Jonas Hayes
James Madison 1969–70 787–714 .524 5 4–5 Atlantic Union Bank Center Mark Byington
Louisiana 1911–12 1449–1124 .563 10 4–10 Cajundome Bob Marlin
Louisiana–Monroe 1951–52 1014–937 .520 7 0–7 Fant–Ewing Coliseum Keith Richard
Marshall 1906–07 1539–1139–2 .575 6 1–6 Cam Henderson Center Dan D'Antoni
Old Dominion 1950–51 1214–765 .613 12 3–12 Chartway Arena Mike Jones
South Alabama 1968–69 857–682 .557 8 1–8 Mitchell Center Richie Riley
Southern Miss 1912–13 1279–1112–1 .535 3 0–3 Reed Green Coliseum Jay Ladner
Texas State 1920–21 1357–1184 .534 2 0–2 Strahan Arena Terrence Johnson
Troy 1950–51 1086–933 .538 2 0–2 Trojan Arena Scott Cross

Championships[edit]

Since the 2018–19 season, the Sun Belt Conference Men's and women's basketball tournaments, held in early March, have involved only 10 of the conference's 12 teams, and have been bracketed in a semi-stepladder format. The bottom four seeds play in the first round; the 5 and 6 seeds receive byes to the second round, the 3 and 4 seeds to the quarterfinals, and the top two seeds to the semifinals. The semifinals and finals are held in New Orleans; the 2019 men's and women's events were at Lakefront Arena, and from 2020 will be at Smoothie King Center.[77] Winners of the tournaments earn automatic bids to their respective NCAA Division I basketball tournament.

Season Men's
Regular Season
Champion
Men's
Tournament
Champion
Women's
Regular Season
Champion
Women's
Tournament
Champion
1977 North Carolina–Charlotte No Regular Season No Tournament
1978 North Carolina–Charlotte New Orleans No Regular Season No Tournament
1979 South Alabama Jacksonville No Regular Season No Tournament
1980 South Alabama Virginia Commonwealth No Regular Season No Tournament
1981 Virginia Commonwealth No Regular Season No Tournament
1982 Alabama–Birmingham No Regular Season No Tournament
1983 Virginia Commonwealth Alabama–Birmingham Old Dominion
1984 Virginia Commonwealth Alabama–Birmingham Old Dominion
1985 Virginia Commonwealth Old Dominion
1986 Old Dominion Jacksonville Western Kentucky
1987 Western Kentucky Alabama–Birmingham Old Dominion
1988 North Carolina–Charlotte Old Dominion Western Kentucky
1989 South Alabama Old Dominion Western Kentucky
1990 Alabama–Birmingham South Florida Alabama–Birmingham Old Dominion
1991 South Alabama Alabama–Birmingham Western Kentucky
1992 Southwestern Louisiana Western Kentucky
1993 New Orleans Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
1994 Western Kentucky Southwestern Louisiana Louisiana Tech
1995 Western Kentucky Louisiana Tech Western Kentucky
1996 Arkansas–Little Rock New Orleans Louisiana Tech
1997 South Alabama Louisiana Tech
1998 South Alabama Louisiana Tech
1999 Louisiana Tech Arkansas State Louisiana Tech
2000 Louisiana–Lafayette Louisiana Tech
2001 Western Kentucky Louisiana Tech
2002 Western Kentucky Florida International
2003 Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
2004 Louisiana–Lafayette (vacated) South Alabama Middle Tennessee State
2005 Denver Louisiana–Lafayette (vacated) Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee State
2006 Western Kentucky South Alabama Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee
2007 South Alabama North Texas Middle Tennessee
2008 South Alabama Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
2009 Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee
2010 Troy North Texas Arkansas–Little Rock Middle Tennessee
2011 Florida Atlantic Arkansas–Little Rock Middle Tennessee
Arkansas–Little Rock
Arkansas–Little Rock
2012 Middle Tennessee Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee Arkansas–Little Rock
2013 Middle Tennessee Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee Arkansas–Little Rock
2014 Georgia State Louisiana–Lafayette Arkansas State Western Kentucky
2015 Georgia State Arkansas–Little Rock
2016 Little Rock Arkansas State Troy
2017 UT Arlington Troy Little Rock Troy
2018 Louisiana Georgia State Little Rock
2019 Georgia State Little Rock
UT Arlington
Little Rock
2020 Little Rock Tournament canceled Troy Tournament canceled
2021 Texas State Appalachian State Louisiana Troy
2022 Texas State Georgia State Troy UT Arlington
2023 Southern Miss Louisiana James Madison
Southern Miss
Texas State
James Madison

Baseball[edit]

Facilities[edit]

Veterans Memorial Stadium, on the campus of Troy University.
School Football stadium Capacity Basketball arena Capacity Baseball stadium Capacity Softball stadium Capacity
Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium 30,000 Holmes Center 8,325 Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium 1,000 Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium 1,000
Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium 30,406 First National Bank Arena 10,563 Tomlinson Stadium–Kell Field 1,200[78]
Non-softball school
Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium 21,000 HTC Center 3,370 Springs Brooks Stadium - Vrooman Field 5,400[79] St. John Stadium – Charles Wade-John Lott Field 500
Georgia Southern Paulson Stadium 25,000 Hanner Fieldhouse 4,325[80] J. I. Clements Stadium 3,000 Eagle Field 400
Georgia State Center Parc Stadium 24,333 Georgia State Convocation Center 8,000[81] GSU Baseball Complex 1,092 Robert E. Heck Softball Complex 500
James Madison Bridgeforth Stadium 24,877 Atlantic Union Bank Center 8,500 Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park 1,200 Veterans Memorial Park 1,500
Louisiana Cajun Field 41,426 Cajundome[a] 12,068 M. L. Tigue Moore Field 6,000 Yvette Girouard Field at Lamson Park 2,790
Louisiana–Monroe Malone Stadium 27,617 Fant–Ewing Coliseum 7,085 Warhawk Field 1,800 Geo-Surfaces Field at the ULM Softball Complex 500
Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium 38,227 Cam Henderson Center 9,048 Jack Cook Field[82][b] 3,500 Dot Hicks Field 325
Old Dominion S. B. Ballard Stadium 22,480 Chartway Arena 8,472 Bud Metheny Baseball Complex 2,500
Non-softball school
South Alabama Hancock Whitney Stadium 25,450 Mitchell Center 10,041 Eddie Stanky Field 4,500 Jaguar Field 1,050
Southern Miss M. M. Roberts Stadium 36,000 Reed Green Coliseum 8,095 Pete Taylor Park 4,300 Southern Miss Softball Complex 607
Texas State Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium 30,008 Strahan Coliseum 10,000 Bobcat Ballpark 2,000 Bobcat Softball Stadium 1,000
Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium 30,470 Trojan Arena 6,000[83] Riddle–Pace Field 2,500 Troy Softball Complex 800
Notes
  1. ^ Louisiana's women's basketball team primarily plays at the Cajundome but occasionally plays at Earl K. Long Gymnasium on the main campus.
  2. ^ Expected to open for the 2024 season.

Athletic department revenue by school[edit]

Total revenue includes ticket sales, contributions and donations, rights and licensing, student fees, school funds and all other sources including TV income, camp income, concessions, and novelties.

Total expenses includes coach and staff salaries, scholarships, buildings and grounds, maintenance, utilities and rental fees, recruiting, team travel, equipment and uniforms, conference dues, and insurance.

The following table shows institutional reporting to the United States Department of Education as shown on the DOE Equity in Athletics website for the 2021–22 academic year.[84]

Institution 2021–22 Total Revenue from Athletics 2021–22 Total Expenses on Athletics
James Madison University $52,857,185 $52,857,185
Old Dominion University $47,364,891 $45,109,567
Georgia State University $45,248,891 $39,913,977
University of Louisiana at Lafayette $39,088,716 $39,088,716
Marshall University $38,114,204 $38,114,204
Coastal Carolina University $38,077,490 $38,077,490
Texas State University $33,707,371 $33,707,371
Appalachian State University $32,271,589 $32,271,589
Georgia Southern University $29,737,578 $29,737,578
Troy University $29,054,724 $29,054,724
University of Southern Mississippi $25,564,444 $25,564,444
University of South Alabama $24,652,380 $24,652,380
Arkansas State University $21,009,474 $21,009,474
University of Louisiana at Monroe $18,416,615 $18,416,615

Academics[edit]

Four of the Sun Belt's member schools, Georgia State, Louisiana, Old Dominion and Southern Miss are doctorate-granting universities with "very high research activity," the highest classification given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[85]

Appalachian State is also currently ranked as one of the Top 10 regional schools in the South by the U.S. News & World Report.

University Affiliation Carnegie[85] Endowment[86] US News[87] Forbes[88]
Appalachian State University Public (UNC) Master's (Larger) $99,593,000[89] 6 (Regional: South) 301
Arkansas State University Public (ASU System) Research (High) $66,217,000[89] 317 (National) N/A[d 1]
Coastal Carolina University Public Master's (Larger) $39,432,000[89] 38 (Regional: South) N/A[d 2]
Georgia Southern University Public (USG System) Research (High) $50,999,000[89] 331-440 (National) N/A[d 3]
Georgia State University Public (USG System) Research (Very High) $155,303,000[89] 234 (National) 367
James Madison University Public Research (High) $116,700,000[55] 151 (National) 139
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Public (UL System) Research (Very High) $178,300,000[90] 331-440 (National) N/A[d 4]
University of Louisiana at Monroe Public (UL System) Doctoral/Research $28,787,795[91] 331-440 (National) N/A[d 5]
Marshall University Public Research (High) $192,000,000[55] 299 (National) N/A[d 6]
Old Dominion University Public Research (Very High) $265,800,000[55] 299 (National) 472
University of South Alabama Public Research (High) $555,735,000[89] 331-440 (National) N/A[d 7]
University of Southern Mississippi Public Research (Very High) $136,300,000[55] 331-440 (National) N/A[d 8]
Texas State University Public (TSU System) Research (High) $186,676,000[89] 331-440 (National) 385
Troy University Public (TU System) Doctoral/Research[92] $191,458,000[93] 44 (Regional: South) N/A[d 9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Arkansas State is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  2. ^ Coastal Carolina is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  3. ^ Georgia Southern is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  4. ^ Louisiana-Lafayette is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  5. ^ Louisiana-Monroe is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  6. ^ Marshall is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  7. ^ South Alabama is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  8. ^ Southern Miss is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.
  9. ^ Troy is not ranked in the 2022 Forbes America's Best Colleges rankings.

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External links[edit]