Appalachian State officially joins the Sun Belt Conference - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Appalachian State officially joins the Sun Belt Conference

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BOONE, NC (WBTV) -

Appalachian State University made it official on Wednesday. The School's Athletic Programs will be a part of the Sun Belt Conference starting July 1, 2014.

The move puts the programs into what used to be called Division 1 Athletics.

For the football program it means a move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision. It is expected to bring more national exposure and bigger challenges to the athletic programs say officials. It could also be a lucrative move in the long term compared to the current division the school is in, Football Championship Subdivision.

Appalachian State would be able to share in Sun Belt Conference television revenues and if successful on the gridiron, could also have a piece of a  larger pie as the FBS moves to a playoff system in 2014.

The move does not come without some cost. Officials estimate that the University will have to come up with 4 to 5 million dollars to pay the expenses involved with the change.

At a news conference Wednesday officials vowed that the majority of costs would not be placed on the backs of students and no money earmarked for academics would be diverted. Officials hope to raise the bulk of the money through alumni and business donations.

They did not rule out separate student fees that could be levied but said the financial plan has not been finalized and it will be worked on over the next six months.

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