UT-Arlington becomes Sun Belt’s 12th member

Published 3:06 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sun Belt Conference announced at its annual meetings the addition of the University of Texas-Arlington to the league in 2013.

UTA joins Georgia State and Texas State as the newest members of the conference. Florida International and North Texas announced to the league earlier in the month of their intended departure for Conference USA.

Texas-Arlington will join the Sun Belt as a non-football member but will allow the conference to split sports like basketball and volleyball into two divisions comprised of six teams each. Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama Troy, and Western Kentucky will make up the East Division while the West Division will include Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe,Texas-Arlington, and Texas State.

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UTA is the sixth-largest institution in the state of Texas and the second-largest in the University of Texas system. Its location in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area is the fifth-largest market area in the country. The school is home to nearly 33,000 students.

“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 in a statement released by the league. ” UTA will help continue the rise of the Sun Belt Conference as a national contender in intercollegiate athletics.”

UT-Arlington has in invested over $80 million in athletic facility improvement and has plans to make another $17 million in improvements in coming years. The school recently opened the $78 million College Park Center, which seats 7,000 for athletic events.

At the meetings, the Sun Belt leadership also discussed future expansions as well as expanding its national brand. The conference also created four special committees consisting of university presidents and chancellors. The committees include Strategic Planning, Television and New Media, Finance, and Competition.