A few nuts and bolts about the Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State is hosting a 2 p.m. press conference today to announce that it has agreed to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.

Here are a few basic facts about the Sun Belt, starting with the fact that it’s two words: Sun Belt, not Sunbelt.

Sun Belt Conference

Though there may be more changes between now and when Georgia State joins in 2013, the members of the Sun Belt Conference are:

Arkansas State

Arkansas-Little Rock


Florida Atlantic

Florida International



Middle Tennessee

North Texas

South Alabama


Western Kentucky

Denver is leaving after the 2012-13 season.

History of the Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State was a charter member of the Sun Belt, along with New Orleans, South Alabama, Jacksonville, North Carolina-Charlotte and South Florida. 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.

New Orleans left in 1980.

The Sun Belt merged with the American South Conference in 1991 and was composed of Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas-Pan American, New Orleans, Lamar, Central Florida, Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Jacksonville, and incoming member Arkansas-Little Rock.

Central Florida left in 1992. Lamar, Texas-Pan American and Jacksonville left in 1998.

Florida International joined in 1998 and Denver in 1999. Louisiana Tech left in 2001.

The league added New Mexico State, North Texas and Middle Tennessee in 2001, along with Louisiana-Monroe and Idaho as football-only member. Utah State was added a football member in 2003.

Utah State, Idaho and New Mexico State left in 2003 for the Western Athletic Conference, whose commissioner was Karl Benson, who is now the Sun Belt’s commissioner.

Troy joined in 2004.

Florida Atlantic joined in 2005.

Louisiana-Monroe and Florida Atlantic joined in 2006.

Western Kentucky joined in 2009.

Sun Belt and Social Media

If you want to learn more about the Sun Belt:

Official website: www.sunbeltsports.org

Twitter: @The_Sun_Belt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheSunBeltConference

Distances from Georgia State

Some Georgia State fans have complained about the travel distance from Georgia State to the other members of the Colonial Athletic Association. Here are the distances from GSU to the campuses of the Sun Belt schools (according to mapquest):

Arkansas State/7 hours, 30 minutes

Arkansas-Little Rock/8 hours, 30 minutes


Florida Atlantic/9 hours, 30 minutes

Florida International/10 hours, 15 minutes

Louisiana-Lafayette/9 hours

Louisiana-Monroe/8 hours

Middle Tennessee/3 hours, 30 minutes

North Texas/13 hours

South Alabama/5 hours

Troy/3 hours, 15 minutes

Western Kentucky/5 hours

37 comments Add your comment


April 9th, 2012
11:23 am

Doug Roberson

April 9th, 2012
11:25 am


April 9th, 2012
11:28 am

Thanks Doug.


April 9th, 2012
11:30 am

So that is only 2 Sun Belt trips further away than our CLOSEST CAA trips. I am liking this.


April 9th, 2012
11:38 am

Looking forward to building regional rivalries in our new conference. This season ticket holder is excited

Mr. E

April 9th, 2012
11:40 am


I’m not sure where you got that from. According to Mapquest, Georgia State is 7 hours from UNC Wilmington, the closest CAA opponent. All but 4 of the Sun Belt opponents are further away than that. Having 4 opponents within a 5 hour drive is nice though.


April 9th, 2012
11:51 am

I guess it comes down to where you feel like paying to fly to. Would you rather pay to fly to NYC/Boston or Monroe, Louisiana?


April 9th, 2012
11:51 am

Good info. A lot of coming and going with more to come. Is the life of many conferences today.

4 schools closer than any CAA schools and then several more that are in the CAA core Virginia area driving range. I do believe that our teams will like this a lot more for traveling. I was not a fan of this move but since it is here I believe the best thing (FBS aside) is some old rivals and 4 schools that are close by.

GAState Alum

April 9th, 2012
12:16 pm

Very excited. #bleedblue


April 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

For football which is the sport most people travel for the closest CAA opponent is 9 hrs away. We currently have for Olympic sports zero opponents under 6 hours away in the CAA vs. 4 in the SBC. Also Benson has already mentioned going to a divisional alignment. Add to that the ability to fly into a major airport for most of these games and there is no way the CAA is a better deal.


April 9th, 2012
12:50 pm

So Doug, when are we getting moved to the left side of the AJC Sports Page? ;)


April 9th, 2012
1:06 pm

Spirit goes to FLL, so you can go to FAU and FIU for about 80 bucks each way. That’s cheaper than a round trip to Athens with 4 dollar gas.

Atlanta Mafia

April 9th, 2012
1:37 pm

;) its just so nice being GSU

Joe Smith

April 9th, 2012
2:01 pm

For those of us with children playing sports at GSU, this is a horrible choice. We live in areas where the CAA is (Carolinas and Virginia) knowing that we can make road trips to many of the CAA sites. This is no longer an option for these locations; they are so far away. I hate this decision, and I doubt our children will treasure a road trip to Monroe, LA over Long Island, NY or Boston.

GSU freshman

April 9th, 2012
2:02 pm

Why do all my classroom at GSU smell like urine and cheddar cheese? Am I being hazed? One other thing, how come the only chicks on campus are housewives? Are these two phenomenons connected? Leonard Nimoy is in search of the answer.

[...] Georgia State was a charter member of the Sun Belt in 1976, but resigned 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 Colonial Athletic Association in 2005. [...]


April 9th, 2012
2:32 pm

You can fly into Nashville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas-Fort Worth. All very affordable trips. From Atlanta, you can easily drive to Troy and Middle Tennessee, and you can make a 5 hour trip to Western Kentucky and South Alabama.


April 9th, 2012
3:01 pm

Doug, please post the financial information promised by Levick. Thanks.

GASo Freshman

April 9th, 2012
3:11 pm

Why do all my classroom at GASo smell like cow manure and meth labs? Am I being hazed? One other thing, how come the only chicks on campus are toothless & pregnant? Are these two phenomenons connected? Larry the Cable Guy is in search of the answer.


April 9th, 2012
3:38 pm

Joe Smith – You have 4 opponents within a 5 hour drive…you have zero opponents within a 5 hours drive in the CAA. How is this not better?

Good to be a Panther

April 9th, 2012
3:45 pm

Great day. I can’t wait to see how the Ga Southern Director of Athletics responds. Come on you had a 30 year head start now what say you?
Silence is golden. They are still trying to piece it all together.
Dazed and confused is now turning to anger, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment.

Do you like apples?
I have a Ga Southern alum coming with me to the Ga State vs. Univ. of Tenn game.
How do you like those apples!


April 9th, 2012
4:09 pm

Now GSU can collect larger checks from SEC schools for being a sacrificial lamb in football. After all, it’s worth far more to pound a FBS Georgia State program than a FCS team.

[...] Sun Belt has 10 football-playing members, stretching from Texas to Florida. Georgia State was a charter member of the Sun Belt in 1976, but resigned to join the Trans America Athletic Conference in 1981. That conference eventually [...]


April 9th, 2012
5:02 pm

Love it!! Welcome to big time football folks. Recruiting should follow then awesome games at the dome. It’s a great day to be a PANTHER!!


April 9th, 2012
6:05 pm

Does this mean the Troy rivalry is back again?

GSU freshman

April 9th, 2012
6:32 pm

Bigtime football? Hahahahahahahaahahahahaha!!!

GSU freshman

April 9th, 2012
6:34 pm

Guess what? I still won’t go to Gsu games, and I will still wear my uga and tennessee hat on campus.
Didn’t we lose to Lambuth? Nuff said.


April 9th, 2012
6:57 pm

Welcome to the Sun Belt Conference! It’s nice to have another good regional program to add to the fold (*cough* unlike Denver *cough*). Now we just need to keep the numbers that we have and add one more in order to get to divisional play and a championship game.


April 9th, 2012
7:15 pm

Thanks Thunderjags! We had a great time in Mobile in 2010 and look forward to another trip to play USA in 2013 or 2014. Stayed on Dauphin Island and had a blast. Sunbelt Conference looks to have a great future under Commissioner Benson. We are proud to be back in the SUNBELT!!!


April 9th, 2012
7:22 pm

@GSUAlumBaseball81 Likewise, we had a great trip up there last year and look forward to more in the near future.


April 9th, 2012
8:32 pm

Sun Belt is a great fit. As a fan, I’ll be much happier traveling to MTSU or Troy than Virginia AA.

We’re back home.

Uncle Johnny

April 9th, 2012
9:01 pm

I bet Coach Hunter is hating life about now…..

[...] A few nuts about bolts about the Sun Belt. [...]


April 10th, 2012
9:43 am

Who the hell still uses MapQuest?

Doug Roberson

April 10th, 2012
9:53 am

Me. I’m old and out of date.

Joe Smith

April 10th, 2012
1:11 pm

GSUGrad06 – we live in the Carolinas and Virginia, and with GSU being in the CAA, there were 6 other schools in Virginia and North Carolina. That was one of the reasons GSU was attractive. Try recruiting from that region with the new conference, and there will be little interest. With the Sun Belt, there are no schools in that footprint, and none within driving distance. This was pure and simple a football decision, and the other sports were thrown under the bus. Levick can sell it any way she wants.


April 11th, 2012
8:49 am

Joe – I think nearly every sport would much rather have a bigger recruiting footprint in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Texas, then Virginia and the Carolinas. Backyard fan support will increase and let’s all admit that football is the engine that powers all other college sports and increases popularity in those other sports. The south and most of the US don’t know what CAA Football is, they know the Sun Belt. Oh and the other sports will get more money = better facilities, recruits, etc. No matter how you cut it, this is a better move for GSU athletics overall…no question.