Georgia State has accepted an invitation to join Sun Belt

Georgia State has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference, a person inside the conference with knowledge of the situation said on Saturday. They will become members in 2013.

Georgia State declined to comment. The university was contacting donors on Saturday, asking them to attend a special event at 2 p.m. Monday at the Georgia Dome.

Timing might be critical because the Colonial Athletic Association, Georgia State’s home since 2005, is expected to vote Tuesday to increase its exit fees from $250,000 to $1 million. An email to the CAA, asking if Georgia State has resigned, hasn’t been answered.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson confirmed Friday he will meet with Georgia State president Mark Becker and athletic director Cheryl Levick on Monday in Atlanta to discuss the possibility of membership in his conference.

The decision to leave the CAA, considered one of the best mid-major conferences in basketball and a power in FCS football, is driven mostly by money, both revenues and expenses. Sun Belt teams play football on the FBS, or bowl, level, which have the potential to generate more money for GSU because of bowl sharing and the potential of guaranteed games, compared to the CAA.

As members of the CAA, Georgia State also repeatedly expressed concern with the missed class time and travel expenses for basketball and its non-revenue sports. The CAA stretches from Atlanta to Maine in football, and Atlanta to Boston in basketball. The Sun Belt has 10 football-playing members, stretching from Texas to Florida. That regional familiarity has been a selling point for Georgia State’s fans.

There may be more additions to the Sun Belt. Benson announced in February, when he was hired, that his conference was looking to expand. He said they preferred schools that play on the FBS level.

However, he said in March that Georgia State’s potential as a top-10 media market with leadership devoted to athletics caused him to reconsider.

Georgia State now must submit an application to the NCAA a notice to reclassify, along with an application, strategic plan and philosophy statement, as well as pay a $5,000 fee. The NCAA’s annual deadline for receiving such packages is June 1, with a required postmark by May 25.

Georgia State must pay an exit fee of at least $250,000 to leave the CAA, and will likely have to forfeit any revenue-sharing agreements with the conference. It may also have to forfeit the chance to participate in any of the conference’s tournaments. There also will be a $300,000 entry fee to join the Sun Belt.

Georgia State’s athletic department has been exploring a move for the past few months. Levick commissioned a report last year that studied the ramifications of moving up to FBS.

The report concluded that “GSU is well-positioned to make a transition to FBS” and “that the Sun Belt would be the best fit.” A draft of the report, along with the contract between Georgia State and the authors, Atlanta-based Collegiate Consulting, was obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an Open Records Request. The report cost $20,000.

Georgia State was also well-positioned to move to the Sun Belt from a budgetary standpoint, according to the feasibility study. The athletic department’s projected $22.9 million in revenues in 2011-12 is 44 percent more than the average Sun Belt member, according to the report. However, the difference in those revenues can be traced to student fees: Georgia State receives more than $16.5 million compared with $5.6 million for an average Sun Belt school. Conversely, the average Sun Belt school received $1.5 million in game guarantees to GSU’s $440,500.

The move has been in the works since February, after Benson went on the Barnhart and Durham show on 790AM and said that Georgia State wants to play football on the FBS level. He later said he didn’t have his facts straight about the Panthers. He called Levick to apologize, and that conversation drifted toward his plans for the Sun Belt and the future of FCS football.

The decision brings Georgia State back to where it started. It was a charter member of the Sun Belt in 1976. Georgia State left to join the Trans America Athletic Conference in 1981. That conference eventually changed its name to the Atlantic Sun. Georgia State left it to join the CAA in 2005.

– Doug Roberson, AJC

156 comments Add your comment

Sluggo

April 7th, 2012
3:10 pm

Panther Princess

April 7th, 2012
3:13 pm

Panama

April 7th, 2012
3:14 pm

Bout Time

Now Athletics, make sure you invite the mayor and the governor. All they can say is no. Make this BIG

Panthersville.com

April 7th, 2012
3:24 pm

A little anti-climatic at this point, but still great!

Tribal - Ga Southern

April 7th, 2012
3:48 pm

Although i started an “honor code” to never talk about GSU, which i broke a couple hours later and even though i claimed i was retiring, i feel that i needed to say, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

State of Atlanta

April 7th, 2012
3:57 pm

STATE OF ATLANTA

Pennsylvania CAA fan

April 7th, 2012
4:11 pm

Sunbelt = hillbilly conference. Are you sure you guys will fit in? I heard South Alabama received a federal grant in 2013 to buy three bunsen burners. Next year they hope to hire a person that understands how to light them. For those down there that are familiar with college rankings (US News, Forbes) you know I have been right all along– Sunbelt is a step-down academically for your students. The only person that was wise enough to concede the point as GSU Staffer (a person that actually works at GSU).

Maybe Georgia Southern could join the CAA. A drive from Phila to Statesboro in Jan sounds ok. I could put on the Statesboro Blues by The Allman Brothers (ranked #9 by Rolling Stone in their list of the 100).

All kidding aside– best of luck. You were gone before we knew you.

Pennsylvania CAA fan

April 7th, 2012
4:11 pm

Sunbelt = hillbilly conference. Are you sure you guys will fit in? I heard South Alabama received a federal grant in 2013 to buy three bunsen burners. Next year they hope to hire a person that understands how to light them. For those down there that are familiar with college rankings (US News, Forbes) you know I have been right all along– Sunbelt is a step-down academically for your students. The only person that was wise enough to concede the point as GSU Staffer (a person that actually works at GSU).

Maybe Georgia Southern could join the CAA. A drive from Phila to Statesboro in Jan sounds ok. I could put on the Statesboro Blues by The Allman Brothers (ranked #9 by Rolling Stone in their list of the 100).

All kidding aside– best of luck. You were gone before we knew you.

BariBlue

April 7th, 2012
4:12 pm

YEAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

ha

April 7th, 2012
4:12 pm

Please refer to them as Ga State and not GSU. I was actually interested for a minute. There is only one GSU and it is in Statesboro and wins football games.

Hey "ha"

April 7th, 2012
4:14 pm

Don’t be upset.

GSU can schedule you guys for an FCS money game and you can take home a few hundred grand.

GSU is in Atlanta

April 7th, 2012
4:17 pm

GSU is FBS : GASo is FCS

Whaaaat?

April 7th, 2012
4:27 pm

Other than William and Mary (and maybe Northeastern barely) there isnt one school in the Colonial that is better than South Alabama. Neither school’s graduates will get paid more than a USA grad. South Alabama has an UNRESTRICTED $400 million endowment. Some schools have good programs at all universities but the only one that really stands out to a Texan or that I’ve heard of is, ironically, Georgia State’s MBA program. And no one cares what league a job applicant’s school is in unless its Ivy.

Panama

April 7th, 2012
4:30 pm

@Ha

Youre the GSU of FCS!

Ha

Ha

Ha

Ha

The VAA is terrible

April 7th, 2012
4:31 pm

Seriously, you can say goodbye to George Mason and VCU very soon.

RidgeRunner

April 7th, 2012
4:32 pm

It is done. Now for us to move on.

wsj

April 7th, 2012
4:39 pm

Actually, most of the CAA schools are better than South Alabama. USA has to support a med school and that is expensive. The US News ranking puts USA in the bottom tier along with Georgia State and Old Dominion.

Pennsylvania CAA fan

April 7th, 2012
5:03 pm

Whaat?s wrong with your internet provider? Don’t you have google. Try it!
South Alabama accepts 86% applicants and not ranked. Hofstra accepts 56% ranked 128 nationally
Drexel 56% and ranked nationally 88; northeastern accepts 38% ranked 62 nationally;
and I can go on Delaware ranked 75th nationally;WM 33rd nationally; Mason 138 nationally; Towson ranked 49 regionally (one of the weak links but still ranked); JMU ranked 6th regionally; UNC Wilmington 11th regionally;

Georgia State University – 51% acceptance but not ranked. Apparently the alumni are now happy. GSU will fit right in with Southern Alabama (I am sure it is a great school as far as schools in the southern part of Alabama go) as neither are ranked.

I always find it funny that people say it doesn’t matter where you went to school (unless it is Ivy). That might be true in the kudzu belt but I’d bet you Vanguard would hire an Emory grad (with equal grades) over a Middle Tenn State grad (no offense to Midd Tenn).

The CAA might be too far away but academically it is superior.

Oh since South Alabama has so much money I bet the feds make them pay the salary of the person they hire to light the burner.

Jason

April 7th, 2012
5:05 pm

Pennsylvania CAA fan, the Sun Belt is simply a stepping stone. Atlanta is a top ten media market and every conference would like to break into that. Ten years from now Georgia State will be in the Big East. It’s not a matter of ambition on GSU’s part. (Sorry Georgia Southern fans, the D1A school is who the media is going to call GSU.) It’s a matter of the huge amount of money to be made in a top ten media market. The Big East needs in and GSU is their ticket. But the Panthers have to spend a couple of years being a cupcake to build up into a good enough program to get the invite.

Georgia State just needs to make sure to not get stuck in some sort of ten million dollar exit fee hole with the Sun Belt. The conference knows they’re getting a great deal here and don’t be surprised if once they get a taste of big market money they don’t want to let GSU go.

Pennsylvania CAA fan

April 7th, 2012
5:05 pm

Just saw it — WSJ – thanks for being honest. You went to Nova? right?

Fred ™

April 7th, 2012
5:24 pm

Good deal for GSU. I’d like to see them play the Dawgs. It would be cool for them (GSU) to keep getting better and better so we could have to good teams here in Georgia and at least one good one in Atlanta…………

Tiguar

April 7th, 2012
5:26 pm

Leave it to a clueless yankee to make ignorant statements. Classless in every sport; professional or otherwise.

Sam

April 7th, 2012
5:32 pm

I never thought it would happen this fast. Great news! GSU was never going to get the fans out in Atlanta until it played southern schools at the FBS level.

Sid Miser

April 7th, 2012
5:39 pm

LOL, Fred, you won’t live long enough to see UGA put gsu on their schedule. They hate Urban State. Oh, btw, South Alabama is already scheduled to play the Bulldogs @ Athens in 2014.

Roy

April 7th, 2012
5:40 pm

Big mistake no way they can complete in recuiting with the likes of Georgia or even Tech. The CAA is the best mid-major in basketball and football, GSU is moving way to fast there not very good and no one wants to go to there games thats the bottom line its all about Georgia in the state even Tech can’t compete. How many fans does GSU average any way do they even average a thousand? Good luck to them they will need it!

Sid Miser

April 7th, 2012
5:42 pm

Oh! And btw, Congrats to the Panthers and all fans and alumni. Looking forward to playing you again, but this time, no fluking OT win for you.

GSU = Sleeping Giant

April 7th, 2012
5:43 pm

GSU was the glue that held the CAA together. GSU leaving will send shockwaves through the conference and will most likely send many members looking for greener pastures abd stability. Book it.

Panther Princess

April 7th, 2012
5:45 pm

Our average for 2011 was 14,285 per game.

Panther Princess

April 7th, 2012
5:50 pm

Of course, home games.

STATEment

April 7th, 2012
5:57 pm

Here we go! Proud day! Sorry Georgia Southern. Has to suck getting so much dust in your eyes.

[...] Link: Georgia State has accepted an invitation to join Sun Belt – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog… [...]

Atlanta Mafia

April 7th, 2012
6:06 pm

NEWSFLASH: Stateboro, Georgia. Special Report for those Eagles fans still in denial – Georgia Southern has been called out for their illegal use of the GSU name for 20 years and will thus be sentenced to a perpetuity in the lower level of Division 1 football because they don’t have the resources, the money, the facilities, the fan-base, or anything else relevant that makes them desirable to the FBS. Reports are in that certain Eagles fans are spinning like a top in denial. Georgia Southern officials are in a dilemma about how to bring their ignorant fans into the realization that they are not a real contender or even desirable outside of the myopic world of Stateboro. Counselors are expected to be on hand to discuss the feelings of inadequacy felt by their fans. Eagles fans are expected to lash-out with irrational statements and outlandish comments about “commuter schools,” the real GSU in Atlanta, and the whole Panther Nation. The hopes of a nation fall upon Statesboro in their time of reconciliation about their on-going reality. Blame has been placed directly on Georgia Southern officials that never truthfully explained to their Eagles fans not to believe the hype in Statesboro. Flags in Statesboro are expected to fly at half-staff for some time now.

Atlanta Mafia

April 7th, 2012
6:15 pm

Also, I would like to thank CAA fans for the “nice” comments here. FYI – you not important either!
GSU was originally a founding member of the SunBelt – so “yes” we are a better fit geographically there. Also, the comments about academics, really, this is about sports. Whether schools in our conference choose to be academically inclined – or not – who cares?! This is not an academic bowl!
Never heard anyone say – “Oooohhh, That CAA sure is a smart confernce!”
Never happened – so that really is a stupid discussion point for you to make about academics in a conference! FYI – your initials are CAA not ACC !

STATEment

April 7th, 2012
6:16 pm

Roy needs to get his facts together before he starts complaining. Why have we not heard any more solid word on other schools being added to the Sun Belt, I know they plan to add more than just one? I hope to see Ap. State, UNC-C, or ODU. La Tech wouldn’t be bad either.

BLT

April 7th, 2012
6:53 pm

Congrats Georgia State University.

GSUAlumBaseball81

April 7th, 2012
6:55 pm

Pennsylvania CAA fan (DREXEL DRAGON) enjoy your obscurity in the Virginia Athletic Association. Maybe your Math Team will finish Number One in 2013!

Gerald

April 7th, 2012
6:59 pm

The folks bashing this move need to quit it. Georgia State will not suffer academically from leaving a conference that consists almost entirely of Virginia and Maryland second tier public universities, with the rest being private schools that people only attend if they can’t get into their first (or second or third) options. Oh, and I forgot about UNC-Wilmington, which is no more than the 7th best school in North Carolina (after Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, UNC-Charlotte and East Carolina) and probably not even that.

Second, Tennessee has 4 FBS schools (UT, Vandy, MTSU, Memphis). Kentucky has 3 (UK, UL, WKU). Alabama has 5 (UA, Auburn, UAB, Troy, South Alabama). Florida has 7 (FSU, UF, Miami, USF, UCF, FAU, FIU). Mississippi has 3 (Ole Miss, MSU, USM) and Louisiana has 4 (LSU, Louisiana Tech, ULM, ULL). North Carolina has at least 6. How is Georgia benefiting from having fewer FBS schools than states with much larger populations? UGA and Georgia Tech aren’t exploiting the monopoly to win national titles (Tech and UGA have 4 outright conference titles between them in 30 years) and the smaller Georgia schools aren’t using the talent spillover to build FCS and Division II powerhouses. Instead, the 2 and 3 star recruits that Georgia Tech and UGA don’t have room for usually wind up leaving the state and helping other programs win games.

This will be good for GSU, good for Atlanta and good for the state.

Gerald

April 7th, 2012
7:03 pm

Now that GSU is an FCS school, the AJC is going to have to start doing some real work. They were inadequately covering Georgia Tech and UGA before, and now they have to cover THREE schools. And the fact that Georgia State IS IN ATLANTA will make them impossible to ignore, which they would certainly do to any Sun Belt school in, say, Augusta or Valdosta.

Ben M

April 7th, 2012
7:08 pm

Hey Roy, you seem like a real smart fella’, but I see you’re having some trouble with your “theres.” Here’s a little cheat sheet you can use for your next brilliant, well-informed post:

Their means something belonging to “them”
They’re is a contraction of “they are”
There refers to a place (”over there”)

And by the logic in your first statement:
(”Big mistake no way they can complete in recuiting with the likes of Georgia or even Tech.”)
South Florida, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Boise State, and countless other programs that have gone FBS in the last 20 years and subsequently been nationally ranked and gone to bowl games should have never even tried.

Your grammar is bad and your points are invalid.

Hilton Head.o.k.

April 7th, 2012
7:17 pm

Being in The Sunbelt Conference is a big climb
from having no team 2 seasons ago.

…….. the real GSU.

Atlanta Mafia

April 7th, 2012
7:23 pm

Hey Ben M, I will attempt to live up to your grammar expectations here. Just wanted to point out the false assumption that you are making since we are all getting technical and everything. Did anyone say that GSU was going to compete directly for recruits with UGA? No, that I am aware of? I should point out that GSU wants to compete in the SunBelt and not the SEC. We appreciate your concern for our future, but you base your statement on some ignorance in your mind. I do, however, expect that GSU can compete with GaTech for recruits since I have knowledge in the recruiting arena of statements made to GSU by specific and potential recruits. Just did not want you to be ignorant on that point anymore with Tech. You can smack and yammer about Tech if you want but that is a dying program and the ACC is saving them from demise through the usual conference payout and good games with conference members. We just want to compete in the SunBelt for the foreseeable future in which we will be more than adequate at recruiting. Please advise me any mistakes with my grammar or diction because I know that my points are correct regardless of what your yammerring may be… (did I spell yammerrring correctly? you should know, right?)

Rick James

April 7th, 2012
7:26 pm

At least there’s one college football program in Atlanta that’s trying to improve it’s product..Best of luck Georgia State.I love your ambition.

Rick James

April 7th, 2012
7:28 pm

@Atlanta Mafia

Well said..State will soon outdraw Tech at home games..No doubt.

Ben M

April 7th, 2012
7:36 pm

Mafia your grammar and diction look fantastic (as with most of us GSU Alumni). I’m not sure what gave you the impression that I was a Tech supporter or that I think we are trying to compete with the SEC or anyone else. I was simply pointing out to Roy that programs with as much recruiting competition have done very well.

Ben M

April 7th, 2012
7:41 pm

The sentence in my post about competing with UGA and Tech was a quote from Roy’s post.

Mark Richt

April 7th, 2012
7:48 pm

My favorite band is AC/DC.
My favorite Brave is Chipper the switch hitter.
All dawgs are with me on this.
Woof.

James

April 7th, 2012
7:51 pm

With this move we can officially christen Georgia State as – “State”. Congratulations!!!! Only a matter of time before you move ahead of the the trade school on North Avenue.

wsj

April 7th, 2012
7:53 pm

@ Atlanta Mafia

Academics matter more than you think. University presidents make the decision of what conference a school will join or what school they’ll let in. University presidents take academics into consideration. You’d have a hard time getting into the Big Ten if your school wasn’t AAU. And the ACC schools are pretty solid academically too. Sports alone is not enough.

James

April 7th, 2012
7:59 pm

I think this is a good move and am hopeful that Georgia State will use this as a stepping stone to the ACC or SEC. The stadium size is there and the academics are there for the SEC, not sure about the ACC. This is very exciting for the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta. Kudos Georgia State on a fabulous job.

blazerdawg

April 7th, 2012
8:02 pm

Odd that folks from the NE always feel the need to criticize something about the south. You would think that folks in Pennsylvania have enough problems with their own universities to consider before knocking ours.