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2012 Sun Belt Conference Annual Meetings Highlights

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2012 Sun Belt Conference Annual Meetings Highlights



SANDESTIN, Fla. – As its annual league meetings concluded Wednesday, the Sun Belt Conference embraces the future and the guarantees of continued success for the conference.  Additionally, the University of Texas-Arlington accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt, and pending the approval of the UT Board of Regents, the Mavericks will become the 12th member institution in the Sun Belt.

In conclusion of the meetings, it is the opinion of Sun Belt leadership that:

1.  The Sun Belt Conference has been proactive throughout the realignment process and the changes that have taken place to the league’s membership have not weakened the conference.  In fact, the league’s membership and strength have been bolstered while several other conferences have taken steps backwards during the realignment process.

2.  The previously announced additions of Georgia State and Texas State and the additional announcement that UT Arlington will also join the league on July 1, 2013, provides a logical geographical footprint for the Sun Belt Conference.  The league can easily be divided in two divisions for men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball with Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky University comprising the East Division.  The West Division will include UALR, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas-Arlington and Texas State.

3.  As for the possibility of conducting a football championship game, in the near future the Sun Belt will conduct a very deliberate and thorough evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of a football championship game.  At this time, the Sun Belt is committed to strengthening its current membership and taking advantage of the new members that have been added.

4.  An important step taken this week was the approval of a five year strategic plan that will develop the measures for success that will set the conference’s path through 2017.  The plan set forward is part of the league’s Strategic Planning Committee, headed by Western Kentucky University President Dr. Gary Ransdell.  The goals for the strategic plan include improving the conference’s revenue profile, continuing television negotiations, strengthening championship competition, improving RPI rankings for all sports - but with an emphasis on men’s and women’s basketball and baseball, improving conference’s BCS rankings, improving the conference Academic Progress Ratings (APR) rankings and strengthening the Sun Belt brand.

5.  The Sun Belt Conference must expand its national brand recognition and undergo a complete brand enhancement study.  If the league’s goal is to complete at the highest level of collegiate athletics, the conference and its member institutions must be prepared to do so from a marketing and brand identity standpoint.

The Sun Belt Conference’s annual meetings include the senior staff of the conference office along with each member school’s Chief Executive Officer, Faculty Athletic Representative, Director of Athletics, Senior Woman Administrator, Head Football Coach, Head Men’s Basketball Coach and Head Women’s Basketball Coach.  Representatives from future members Texas State, Georgia State and UT Arlington were present at the meetings.

Additional topics of discussion included conference expansion, Sun Belt Conference leadership positions and Sun Belt Conference championships.


Addition of UT Arlington

During the four day meeting the Sun Belt Conference officially extended an invitation to UT Arlington to join the league on July 1, 2013.  UTA officials have accepted the invitation, and pending the approval of the UT Board of Regents, the Mavericks will become the 12th member institution in the Sun Belt.  UTA joins UALR as non-football playing members, while the other 10 intuitions participate in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

“On behalf of the presidents and chancellors of the member institutions of the Sun Belt Conference, I am pleased to welcome the UT Arlington to our league,” said Sun Belt Conference President and Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.  “The Sun Belt Conference has never been stronger athletically, academically or financially, and today's action makes us even stronger. Our goal is to add value to our conference by inviting universities with strong academic and athletic programs that fit our profile and our geographic footprint.  UT Arlington meets these criteria.”

UT Arlington is the second-largest institution in the University of Texas System, is the sixth-largest institution in the state of Texas and is the 33rd largest institution in the United States.

“We are honored to join the Sun Belt Conference,” said UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo.  “This move will help us continue to advance the interests of our university.  Along with the opening of the College Park Center just a few short months ago, this move to the Sun Belt is another clear sign of the growth of not only our athletic department but of our entire university.”

UTA athletics currently competes in 14 varsity sports at the NCAA Division I level and impressively has invested over $80 million in athletic facility improvements.  Additionally, UTA has planned another $17 million in athletic facility improvements and renovations for the next several years.  The crown jewel of UTA’s athletic facility enhancements is the brand new $78 million, 218,000-square-foot College Park Center.

“This is another milestone for UT Arlington athletics,” said UT Arlington Director of Athletics Jim Baker.  I want to thank Commissioner Karl Benson for the invitation to compete in the Sun Belt Conference.  This move to the Sun Belt will allow us to continue to showcase our athletics program on a national level and create further awareness for our university.”

UTA currently meets all standards with the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR). The Dallas/Fort Worth metro area is the fifth largest designated market area (DMA) in the United States.

“The addition of UT Arlington is tremendous for the Sun Belt Conference as the league will now move forward with 12 member institutions with two six team divisions,” said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson.  UTA will help continue the rise of the Sun Belt Conference as a national contender in intercollegiate athletics.”


Sun Belt Conference Leadership

Dr. Jack Hawkins, chancellor of Troy University, will continue to serve as the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee President.  His term was set to expire this year, however, the Sun Belt Conference’s presidents and chancellors voted to extend his term for an additional year.

“Over the past year – and specifically the past two months, Chancellor Hawkins has provided the Sun Belt with strong and effective leadership during this time of conference realignment,” said Benson.  “I am very pleased that he is willing to serve in this capacity for the coming year and the Sun Belt is very fortunate to have him in this leadership role.”

“With a new commissioner coming on board this spring, the CEOs of our member institutions decided it would be beneficial to the conference to extend my term as President of the Sun Belt Conference for one year to maintain continuity of leadership during this time of transition,” said Dr. Hawkins.  “I am honored to continue to serve the conference in this capacity.”

The slate of officers for 2012-13, in addition to Hawkins, is: Vice President – Gordon Moulton, President, South Alabama; Past President - Dr. Sidney McPhee, President, Middle Tennessee; Treasurer – Joel Anderson, Chancellor, UALR.

Source: Sun Belt Media Relations
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Re: 2012 Sun Belt Conference Annual Meetings Highlights

This is a good thing to see them recognize:

5.  The Sun Belt Conference must expand its national brand recognition and undergo a complete brand enhancement study.  If the league’s goal is to complete at the highest level of collegiate athletics, the conference and its member institutions must be prepared to do so from a marketing and brand identity standpoint.
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Re: 2012 Sun Belt Conference Annual Meetings Highlights

It all sounds good but I hope they act as quickly as possible to secure from two (12 team football conference) to up to six (16 team football conference - the look of the future of collegiate football) of the highest profile and/or media market programs available before CUSA moves to expand again or even the MAC, so the the Belt get's the best of the available programs for our future. Not to wait and have to take what is "left-over" from the other non Big6 conference expansions.

Get 'er done Belt!
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