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Coastal Carolina to Join Sun Belt Conference

Category: Big South Expansion & Realignment, Featured News, NCAA Conference Expansion & Realignment, Sun Belt Expansion & Realignment

Coastal Carolina UniversityCoastal Carolina will join the Sun Belt conference as it’s 12th member. The current FBS school will join in all sports in 2016 and upgrade it’s football program to join the conference in 2017. Coastal Carolina will also need to undergo a stadium renovation in order to meet the NCAA requirements for an FBS program.

The Sun Belt had been reviewing both Coastal Carolina and Eastern Kentucky for the 12th spot. In the end, Coastal Carolina won out due to factors such as it’s market location. Eastern Kentucky will likely remain a potential expansion candidate should the conference ever seek to expand to 14 all-sports schools in the future.

The addition of Costal Carolina to the Sun Belt is not a positive sign for other schools. Current football-only member New Mexico St. has been hoping for an all-sports invitation as an upgrade from the WAC. The other football-only member, Idaho, will not see the addition of Coastal Carolina as a positive either. While Idaho is content in the Big Sky for it’s other sports, the addition of Coastal Carolina will bring some uncertainty to it’s future as a football-only member in the conference. Idaho and New Mexico St. are expected to be asked to leave the conference once the existing partnership deal ends.

Another school likely unhappy with the addition of Coastal Carolina is UMass. Since being forced out of the MAC as a football-only member after refusing to move all its sports to the conference, UMass has been hoping for a football-only conference invitation from the Sun Belt rather than be forced into a long future as a football independent. As the AAC does not seem to be expanding any time soon, the school is left with no other option. For UMass, watching all the Division 1 upgrades and conference realignment in recent years is like watching a bingo game on one of the paysafecard bingo sites. But just once they think they have any chance to win a coveted spot, another school hops in at the last moment and calls “bingo”.

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