By David Rogers. July 1, 2016. NEW ORLEANS, LA — Fresh off its baseball national championship by winning the NCAA College World Series in Omaha earlier this week, Coastal Carolina University adds even more glitz to the Sun Belt Conference today as the Conway, South Carolina school officially becomes a league member in all sports except football for the 2016-17 academic year.
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The Chanticleers’ football program begins a two-year transition from the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) to FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) of NCAA Division I play this fall in its former league affiliation, the Big South Conference. Next season, CCU will play a full Sun Belt Conference schedule and is eligible to win a conference championship, but not yet bowl-eligible for post-season play. The Chanticleers will become bowl-eligible in 2018.
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern completed similar transitions as the previous new entries in the Sun Belt and FBS, with the Mountaineers making history in gaining not only a bowl berth in their first year of eligibility, but also winning their first bowl game over Ohio University in the thrilling, 2015 Camellia Bowl, in Birmingham, AL. For Blowing Rock News coverage of the Camellia Bowl, CLICK HERE.
What They’re Saying
- “This is a great day for the Sun Belt Conference as we are very proud to have Coastal Carolina University officially join our membership,” said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. “The Sun Belt has a bright future and Coastal Carolina makes a perfect fit as it, too, has seen a tremendous amount of growth and success with its baseball team most recently winning the College World Series and a national championship. Under the leadership of President DeCenzo, Athletics Director Matt Hogue, and all the Chanticleer coaches and student-athletes, I expect CCU to be very competitive in the Sun Belt immediately and represent the SBC in NCAA championships in the upcoming season.”
- “July 1 ushers in a new wave of excitement at Coastal Carolina University as we officially join the Sun Belt Conference,” said Coastal Carolina University president Dr. David A. DeCenzo. “The entire Coastal Carolina community is excited about our transition and look forward to a new level of competition with our sister Sun Belt schools. We could not be more honored than to have been asked to join the Sun Belt Conference and look forward to a long and rewarding association with Commissioner Benson and the SBC schools.”
- “We have been looking forward to July 1 for nearly a year now and are thrilled to now officially join the Sun Belt,” Coastal Carolina director of athletics Matt Hogue said. “This new era will bring new opportunities to not only our athletic programs, but our entire University and will support our strategy and vision to expand the Coastal Carolina brand nationally and globally. We are excited to begin competing with and working alongside the prestigious institutions of the Sun Belt.”
With the addition of Coastal Carolina, the Sun Belt Conference will now have a symmetrical, geographic structure that is unparalleled in the history of the conference. The league will have two universities in Alabama (South Alabama and Troy), Arkansas (Arkansas State and Little Rock), Georgia (Georgia Southern and Georgia State), Louisiana (UL Lafayette and UL Monroe) and Texas (UT Arlington and Texas State) to go with Appalachian State in North Carolina and Coastal Carolina in neighboring South Carolina.
The Sun Belt Conference will be an 11-team league in football until the 2018 season when Idaho and New Mexico State depart and Coastal Carolina joins to bring the membership to 10 teams. That season will be the first in which the Sun Belt Conference football champion will be determined by a championship game. The conference, with the addition of Coastal Carolina, will be a 12-team league beginning in the 2016-17 academic year in the following sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field and volleyball. Coastal Carolina also sponsors men’s sports in cross country, outdoor track & field, soccer and tennis, and women’s sports in golf, soccer, softball and tennis.
The Sun Belt Conference begins a new era by not only solidifying its membership, but adding new bowl affiliations in 2016. The Sun Belt Conference holds primary bowl tie-ins with the
- R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
- GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile, AL)
- Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Birmingham, AL)
- Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL)
The conference will add the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., to its list of primary bowl tie-ins beginning this upcoming season. The Sun Belt Conference became an exclusive member of the College Football Playoff in 2014 which gives its teams a chance to compete for college football’s ultimate title. One spot is guaranteed in the College Football Playoff’s “New Year’s Six” non-semifinal bowl games for the highest-ranked champion of the Sun Belt Conference or its four peer conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference).