|« Eastern Washington overflows with quality receivers||Randy Hanson Hired as Secondary Coach at Cal Poly »|
Georgia State to Join Sun Belt Conference in 2013
Georgia State University has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference on July 1, 2013, and will begin conference competition in the 2013-14 academic year.
The official invitation was extended by Sun Belt Conference President and Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., to GSU President Mark Becker at an afternoon news conference Monday at the Georgia Dome, the home venue of Georgia State football.
“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 Hawkins. “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!”
The Sun Belt is one of only eleven conferences to participate in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Sun Belt was formed in 1976 with six members competing in four men’s sports, and today comprises 12 institutions of higher learning while sponsoring 19 championship sports for men and women.
“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,” said 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.”
Georgia State was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976 but left the conference in 1981. In 1984, the school joined the Trans America Athletic Conference, which was renamed the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2001, and then moved to the Colonial Athletic Association in 2005.
The move to the Sun Belt means that the Georgia State football program, which began play in 2010 under head coach Bill Curry, will step up to the FBS level. GSU football will complete a transitional period while playing a Sun Belt schedule in 2013 and then will be eligible for postseason football in 2014. All other GSU sports will be eligible for Sun Belt championships in 2013-14.
President Becker noted that the move to the Sun Belt Conference will take place in 2013, the same year that Georgia State University, founded in 1913, celebrates its centennial.
“Georgia State is very much looking forward to joining the Sun Belt Conference as the university continues to set new goals for excellence, not just in athletics, but in research and everything that we do, over the next 100 years,” said Becker.
GSU Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick added, “Under President Becker’s leadership, Georgia State University is growing in size and stature as one of the nation’s leading urban research institutions, so it is only fitting that our athletic program moves to the top level of college athletics.
“We want to thank Chancellor Hawkins and Commissioner Benson for this opportunity, and we look forward to an exciting new era in Georgia State Athletics,” she continued. “The Sun Belt Conference is a tremendous fit for Georgia State, offering top-quality competition, increased exposure, and the chance to build rivalries with schools in driving distance for our fans.”
Karl Benson - Commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference
“On behalf of the 11 member universities of the Sun Belt Conference, and the presidents and chancellors, welcome to today’s press conference. It is my pleasure to be in Atlanta today to be a part of this special occasion, and for this announcement that is so important in the history of both Georgia State and the Sun Belt.
“The two parties have much in common, going back to the founding of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976. Georgia State was a founding member of the Sun Belt. But today, 36 years later, both Georgia State and the Sun Belt look much different than they did back in 1976. Both are on the verge of taking the next step to greatness and we look forward to that partnership in doing so.
“With today’s announcement, the Sun Belt gets bigger, but more importantly, it gets better with the addition of Georgia State. Under the leadership of President Mark Becker and Director of Athletics Cheryl Levick, the Sun Belt is very confident that Georgia State will have immediate success in the Sun Belt. It won’t be long before Georgia State teams will be winning Sun Belt championships and Georgia State student-athletes will be participating in Sun Belt championships, NCAA championships and NCAA bowl games.
“It truly is a partnership where both the Sun Belt and Georgia State are in similar positions with tremendous upside and tremendous potential. The Sun Belt looks forward to adding the state of Georgia to the collection of states, especially the city of Atlanta and the entire Atlanta community.
Dr. Jack Hawkins - Chancellor of Troy University and Sun Belt Conference President
“We are excited about the announcement today. I am proud to report to you that academically, athletically and financially, the Sun Belt has never been stronger than it is today. However, I think we add yet another strength to this conference with this announcement.
“On behalf of the board, the CEO’s and all affiliated with the Sun Belt Conference, Dr. Becker it is a real pleasure for me to on behalf of the conference to invite Georgia State University as our next member. Welcome home!”
Dr. Mark Becker - President of Georgia State University
“Good afternoon. I’d like to thank all of you for being here on this wonderful day in the life of Georgia State University. Mr. Commissioner, Chancellor Hawkins, on behalf of the university, I am pleased to formally accept the invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference.
“The process of getting to this day started with a careful and detailed analysis of the feasibility of Georgia State making the move to an FBS conference. That analysis showed very clearly that GSU is well positioned for the move to FBS and that the Sun Belt Conference in particular provides an excellent fit for our athletics program. Georgia State’s move to the Sun Belt is a bit like déjà vu all over again. As noted, Georgia State was one of the six founding members of the Sun Belt back in August of 1976.
“There is every reason to expect that today’s announcement will yield significant benefits for both the Sun Belt Conference and Georgia State for many years to come. We are particularly excited about the leadership and the vision that the university presidents and Commissioner Benson are providing the Sun Belt Conference. We look forward to the future together.
“Georgia State was founded in 1913. We celebrate our centennial next year, the same year that we officially enter the Sun Belt Conference for competition. Joining the Sun Belt Conference is just one example of how GSU is continually raising the bar on itself for excellence in athletics as well as education, research and everything that we do.
“We expect our second 100 years to be even more transformational than our first 100. We are delighted that we will kick off our second century competing in the Sun Belt Conference.
Cheryl Levick - Georgia State University Director of Athletics
“Thank you Dr. Becker, thank you Chancellor Hawkins, thank you Commissioner Benson. On behalf of Georgia State athletics, over 350 student-athletes, and every coach that is in this room, I am delighted to stand before you as the newest member of the Sun Belt Conference.
“For the past two years, the athletic department has worked tirelessly to build a top notch athletic department and a solid foundation in our football program. You all know the story of how we built it from scratch. You’ve heard about the one player, the two helmets and the seven coaches. We have a long way to go and have taken many strides so far. One of the biggest strides we’ve taken is today. We’ve taken a big step up to the Sun Belt Conference, because it is one of just eleven conferences in the nation who are members of the Bowl Championship Series.
“The journey to this day began five months ago, when we commissioned a feasibility study by Collegiate Consulting to really look at and evaluate the landscape of the BCS and see if Georgia State might fit. The report concluded that we were well positioned to make a move to the FBS level. This study also concluded that the Sun Belt Conference would be a great fit. We agreed and we welcome to opportunity to build regional rivalries with schools within driving distance such as Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky.
“Under Dr. Becker’s leadership, Georgia State is growing in size and stature as one of the nation’s leading urban research institutions. It is only fitting that our athletic department move to the top level of collegiate athletics. Being a member of an FBS conference gives us the opportunity to play in bowl games and on national television. It will increase the exposure and notoriety for Georgia State athletics and for the entire university. It will be very exciting to see all 19 of our varsity sport programs play under the Sun Belt banner in July of 2013.
“We look forward to being an integral player in the ambitious plans that Commissioner Benson has for this conference. His plans to further expand this conference and rebrand it are exciting. I thank Chancellor Hawkins and Commissioner Benson for this opportunity. I will conclude my remarks by saying that this has truly been a banner day for Georgia State athletics and Georgia State University.
FOOTBALL HEAD COACH BILL CURRY
“For us to be able to move this quickly is something I would’ve never dreamed of…Maybe six or eight years down the road, but not this soon.”
“It will do a great deal for recruiting. Kids feel like if they’re not playing at the highest level, they’re really missing something. There’s a different kind of athlete that we should be able to attract. We like our recruiting but we think we’ll like it more.”
CAA FOOTBALL COMMISSIONER TOM YEAGER
“Georgia State’s withdrawal from the CAA and CAA Football is predicated on the university’s desire to reclassify to FBS football which requires membership in an FBS league. We’ve been aware that GSU was having discussions with the Sun Belt Conference as the CAA could not accommodate that desire within GSU’s timeframe. The conference wishes the university well as it pursues these new interests.
The CAA and CAA Football are well positioned to continue to build on our recent accomplishments including two Final Four appearances in men’s basketball, five national championships in football and new national television contracts all of which have been prominent benchmarks during ongoing membership discussions.”
By Georgia State University and Colonial Athletic Association Media Relations