Georgia State projects an estimated savings of $150,000 in annual football travel costs once it joins the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.
The Panthers announced last week that they are leaving the Colonial Athletic Association, their home since 2005, and will join the Sun Belt in the summer of 2013. The reasons include the opportunity to play football on the FBS level, increased revenue from regional rivalries and, among the minor reasons, travel savings. The CAA spreads from Atlanta to Maine in football, and Atlanta to Boston in basketball. The geographic footprint raises travel costs for all teams.
The Sun Belt is based mostly in the South, with several schools within a five-hour drive from Atlanta. There are no CAA schools that close.
The Panthers athletic department projects a cost of $360,400 for four road games in the Colonial Athletic Association this season. The road games are William and Mary (578 miles), Rhode Island (1,039 miles), James Madison (447 miles) and Maine (1,335 miles). The estimate covers a traveling party of 105 people with charter flights, hotels, meals, buses and vans. The cost doesn’t include the trip to Tennessee.
Schedules for the 2013 Sun Belt season obviously aren’t complete. However, Georgia State estimates four road games; some are as far away as North Texas (819 miles) to as close as Troy (183 miles). The estimated cost of those four trips is $210,800.
The difference between the CAA and Sun Belt costs can be found in the number of charter flights needed.
GSU is booking four charter flights for the CAA season. Only two will be needed in their Sun Belt estimate. The difference in those costs is $152,000.
This estimated savings shouldn’t be counted and spent yet. The Sun Belt isn’t done expanding (or contracting depending upon what happens in the Conference USA/Mountain West discussions). More regional rivals could be added. However, I would be surprised if any schools are added that are significantly further away than North Texas.
Last week I noted that the Sun Belt paid each of its schools $750,000 last year in revenue sharing, compared to the CAA giving GSU less than $200,000, according to the website www.caahoops.com.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu.