Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson’s statement at basketball tourneyPublished 11:05am Saturday, March 9, 2013
Statement from Commissioner Karl Benson:
“The leadership of the Sun Belt Conference’s ten future members took the time to meet this morning and discuss the direction of our conference. While there was a great deal of important discussion, there have not been any invitations extended to those interested in joining our league. We continue to focus on the future strength of this league and we are to going to add additional members soon. We feel that the Sun Belt Conference has options – and they are good options.”
When I came in to the Sun Belt there was an expectation that a new Sun Belt would be built, with new structure, with more strength. However, if you look around the NCAA at other conferences, changes have been unprecedented. So we are here tonight with some uncertainty. Nevertheless, the goals of the Sun Belt have stayed the same. One of the reasons I took this job was because the Sun Belt has great options. There are schools within our footprint that want to be in our conference, and this gives us many options and alternatives. This was also the case a year ago when Texas State, Georgia State and Texas-Arlington joined the league. Even then, there were several others who expressed interest in our league and we told them they would stay in our vision.
On whether the Sun Belt needs to get to 12 football schools:
Right now we are looking at our potential pool of members that we feel have great value. I told all of our members after Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic departed that we want to keep the same goals that we established a year ago. We want to create two geographic divisions and make sure there’s at least 10 football schools while considering the option of 12. Our meeting today focused on our goals and re-established what we have called the “10-12 Model” where we have 10 football schools and 12 overall. We also want to make sure that the schools in our league make sense geographically and are regionally aligned. Within the next 30 days I expect us to be able to be in a position to announce what the new structure is going to be. If we wanted to add teams right now, we could do that this afternoon. We could add two all-sport schools, four schools with a mix of football and non-football, and we can mix and match if we wanted to right now. Though we want to be selective and make all the correct decisions. It takes time to get all