On one hand you have Liberty, which seems infinitely wealthy, and would increase SBC schools' media exposure and attendance, putting cash in each school's coffers. On the other hand you have EKU, which is not ready to move up, and likely would contribute little if anything to the conference - other than fulfilling their strategic plan - for at least a decade. (That is, assuming they don't take Fresno State Alum's advice and get someone like Larry Flynt to pledge $20 million per year to the EKU athletic department.) Liberty has an athletic budget of about $30 million and growing rapidly, while EKU's is about a third of that and scratching for more. In my opinion, Liberty has developed what is probably THE winning business model in their industry - i.e., university education.
In your presentation to identify some of Liberty's strengths, it is also noting aspects that schools already in the SunBelt conference could be grappling with to determine if they indeed want to pursue a formal association with Liberty. I appreciate you delivering your points. And I have no intent to be overtly critical about them, but to note that what may be seen as merit for Liberty, could be seen as undesirable aspects by those that regard certain initiatives differently.
When it comes to academics and fund-raising, "THE winning business model in their industry" is a red-flag for state-supported (and academically elite private institutions). They shall state, the mission for higher education is not for profit, but to provide the best available educational opportunities for students within their means. These schools are limited, and should be, in engaging in certain unorthodox practices aimed essentially at growth for profit. It could be a war with traditionalists, and certainly Liberty is not unique in exploiting avenues for growth and revenue that traditionalist find counter to their approach to determine what is academic excellence.
I'll make a revelation here. I have an undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern University. Also, I had academic (including graduate) and/or employment experiences and other places in the southeast and northeast. I have dealt extensively with distance education, have taught traditional and online classes, written successful state and federal grants, and have served on a couple of occasions as a member of accreditation review teams.
Online classes can be real challenging for students and certainly for the professor if done correctly. I had experience with some students treating such as an endeavor to receive an easy high grade while doing little to no work, though vigorously advising them otherwise. More than a few experienced the negative consequences of procrastination, laziness, and deficient submissions. If a higher education institution uses non-traditional instructional methodology essentially as a means for convenience, low overhead, new tuition, and a new-found openness in terms of acceptance; then major academic compromising is going on if extensive monitoring and firm standards are not in place.
When I was an undergraduate student at Georgia Southern, I asked in a student meeting with administrators why Georgia Southern did not have a football team. This was before they had one, though they had one decades back. The response was as if I asked an absurd question with other students giving a collective sigh. One administrator said there would be nobody really to play close by---maybe The Citadel. Several years later, Georgia Southern had a football program with long-time UGA defensive coordinator, Irk Russell, leading the charge.
I can't say how Georgia Southern or any other SB conference member would ultimately vote on Liberty's membership application. Each needs to ask themselves is Liberty somebody we would want to play regularly in all our spectrum of sports? If the SunBelt Presidents see Liberty as having an advantage in revenue through practices they label as questionable, I expect such shall be a formidable part of the discussion. These schools are seeking to add a "peer"; and even if Liberty delivers on the location, fans, facilities, etc., they (SB schools) are also focused on protecting reputation, their practices, and not affording another an inherent advantage in revenue available for sports. When one group is accountable to state legislatures and system governances for survival, and another is a self-sustaining private entity accountable to their own hierarchy with an unshared mission, there are philosophical and practical differences. Do they choose to bridge the divide?