|Sunbelt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson|
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson made this statement to us in an e-mail regarding the Sun Belt & adding new members:
“While I am disappointed that Middle Tennessee State University and Florida Atlantic University have elected to depart the Sun Belt Conference, the SBC is still very well positioned for the future and I remain very optimistic that the momentum that has been created in the past six months will continue to grow. The continuing 10 members of the SBC are committed to excellence and I am confident that the SBC will take advantage of these latest changes in the landscape. As I have stated many times in the past six months, the SBC will be a major player in the future, especially within its geographic footprint.
As for future members, there are several outstanding universities that have indicated interest in joining the SBC. While we have conducted research on these universities in the past six months, we will now focus on identifying the ones that will be the best “fit” for the conference and the ones that will contribute immediately in achieving our goal of being the best of the FBS conferences that currently do not receive automatic qualification into the BCS.
The future is still very BRIGHT for the SBC and I look forward to working with the leadership of the SBC in the coming days, weeks and months to continue the growth and development of this outstanding athletic conference.”
The middle paragraph is of the most importance to Liberty. While Benson does not state the Sun Belt will add members, it is clear that is their intention. Who are these “several outstanding universities” that have shown interest? In May, Benson specifically mentioned Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, Liberty, Jacksonville State, Lamar, and Sam Houston State.
*Update* – Benson spoke on a radio show this morning, notable quotes from him during this interview:
- “We are putting together an aggressive plan to continue to move forward.”
- “Several Universities within the Sun Belt footprint have expressed interest.”
- “In the next few weeks we will have our own press conference to announce the additions.”
- “How far can it (our regional footprint) be stretched to maintain our regionality?”
- When asked if FCS schools would be involved in these additions – “That’s been the natural progression.”