Almost certain: ULM to the Sun Belt
All ULM sports may make jump to Sun Belt
June 23, 2004
(c) 2004 by The News-Star
The Sun Belt Conference is planning to add an all-sports member by July 1, and mounting evidence suggests that the University of Louisiana at Monroe is the school that will fill the slot.
Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters confirms the league's desire to announce a new all-sports member in the near future.
"Discussions are ongoing," Waters said. "I still think it will be by July 1, give or take a week."
ULM has emerged as the leading expansion option for the Sun Belt, which needs to add an eighth Division I-A football-playing program in all sports.
"I think we've always looked for a school that matched up," Waters said. "They fit academically, athletically and geographically."
A move by ULM would give the Sun Belt its eighth full I-A member to meet the NCAA's required minimum. If the Sun Belt doesn't have eight full members by 2005, it would have to request a waiver to remain a I-A league.
ULM is already affiliated with the Sun Belt Conference in football, swimming and diving. The Indians compete in the Southland Conference in other sports.
"We've had a wonderful relationship with the Southland Conference," ULM athletics director Bruce Hanks said. "It's still a good relationship with all the member schools of the conference. But they play I-AA football, so we don't have that opportunity."
Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett said ULM has not notified him about any plans to leave - but he won't be surprised if it does.
"To date, ULM has not contacted myself or any other president stating that they were planning on leaving the conference," Burnett said. "That being said, it won't surprise me if such calls come in the coming days, weeks or months."
June 23, 2004