Appalachian State to join the Sun Belt Conference? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Appalachian State to join the Sun Belt Conference?

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BOONE, NC (WBTV) -

It has been rumored for years, but now it appears that Appalachian State will make the move out of the Southern Conference and into the Sun Belt.
 
The Winston-Salem Journal reported on Monday that ASU and Georgia Southern will both be making the move to the Sun Belt with an announcement expected later in the week, possibly on Wednesday.
 
If true, it would mean that the Mountaineers would move from the NCAA Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision and be eligible for bowl games.
 
ASU decided to pursue a move to the FBS in August 2011 and has been seeking and awaiting an invitation from an FBS conference since.
 
"The emphasis is on academics of the institution, and everybody knows that athletics certainly enriches that experience," school Chancellor
Dr. Kenneth Peacock told WBTV in 2011. "That university experience is enriched tremendously by having a great athletic program and Appalachian wants to continue to do that."
 
The chancellor also told WBTV that the move would bring Appalachian into line with other schools that "are more like Appalachian," and change the football schedule to have more opponents "that created sizzle."
 
Peacock says that as Appalachian has changed in the last twenty years, it has improved in academics and athletics and should be in the same league with similar institutions.
 
The chancellor says it would help academically, as well as athletically, raising the school's profile and attracting more qualified applicants to the Boone campus, and that's not all.
 
"There is the possibility, if you're successful, of more money, and there are some models that we've seen, although I have not received the final report yet, some models we have seen in which you can actually reduce student fees and make it less expensive," Peacock added.
 
The Sun Belt now consists of ten football teams, including Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky. Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington compete in other sports but not football. Georgia State, Texas-Arlington and Texas State will be new to the Sun Belt at the start of the next academic year. All Sun Belt members are public universities.
 
The reaction today among App fans seemed to be mixed. While many are happy to see ASU now go to the highest collegiate level, others say it will mean the end of national championships and cherished local rivalries like ASU and Western Carolina's "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug."
 
The Mountaineers won FCS national championships in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and in one of the sport's greatest upsets, knocked off #5 ranked Michigan in September of 2007.
 
ASU's football budget is about $6 million short of where it would need to be, and ASU would have to offer 85 football scholarships, it now offers 63.
 
On the revenue creating side, ticket prices could go up, guarantees from opponents would increase, and ASU would have a chance to share bowl money if ASU or any team from a prospective conference gets into a bowl game.
 
Details of the move — such as the exact date that ASU will join the Sun Belt — are being worked out, but ASU could begin competition in the Sun Belt in 2014 in all 18 sports the conference offers, according to the report in the Journal.

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