Coastal Carolina University President David A. DeCenzo announced the decision today at a news conference held at the HTC Student Convocation and Recreation Center. During the announcement, DeCenzo expressed his appreciation to the Sun Belt Conference.
“On behalf of all of us at Coastal Carolina University, I’m honored to accept the invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference. I am grateful to Sun Belt Commissioner, Mr. Karl Benson, for his steadfast support of CCU, and to the Sun Belt presidents and chancellors, who honored CCU by selecting their 12th member school.”
Coastal Carolina Joining Sun Belt Conference
Interestingly, the Chanticleers will officially join the conference in every sports except football on July 1, 2016. The football squad will play as an FBS transitional team in 2016, which most likely means a schedule composed equally of FCS and FBS opponents, although that remains to be determined.
After the transitional period the team can compete for a Sun Belt crown in 2017 and participate in a postseason bowl game the following season. The situation is identical to Georgia Southern who played its first season in the Sun Belt last year as a full-time member, won the conference title, wasn’t eligible for the postseason, but will be in 2015 – its second season in the conference.
The Chanticleers will play in the Big South Conference one last time in 2015 – a conference they’ve participated in since 2003. During that span they’ve won six conference titles and made the playoffs on four occasions.
The move makes a ton of sense for a conference that has been poached like crazy over the past few years. It also moves it to 12 teams, which means a Sun Belt Championship game every December in front of a national TV audience.
“This is a great day for the Sun Belt Conference as we are very proud to have Coastal Carolina University join our membership,” said Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson. “The Sun Belt is a growing conference with a bright future and Coastal Carolina makes a perfect fit as they too have seen a tremendous amount of growth and have all the tools necessary to move forward at the highest level of collegiate athletics. Under the leadership of President David A. DeCenzo and Athletics Director Matt Hogue, I expect the Chanticleers to be competitive in all Sun Belt sports and to represent the conference in a first-class manner on and off the field.”
The conference will have a much different look when Coastal Carolina joins. It will split up into West and East divisions with the West housing Arkansas State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Texas State, UL Lafayette, UL Monroe. The East will consist of Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Troy.
Unlike Idaho, New Mexico State, and Georgia State who all struggled in their first year in the conference, expect Coastal Carolina – BR-5 in the FCS – to compete right away. Georgia Southern proved with their 8-0 conference mark in 2014 that any newcomer with enough talent and experienced coaching can grab the Sun Belt title in year one.