Formed in 1976 the Sun Belt Conference quickly rose to the greatest heights of collegiate athletics and the league continues to find itself at the pinnacle of competition as a member of the 10-league alliance of the Bowl Championship Series and soon-to-be College Football Playoff.
Because of its status as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Sun Belt Conference has a permanent seat on the NCAA’s 18-member Board of Directors. As a result, the conference has a crucial voice on some of the most pressing issues in college athletics and will always have a role in the implementation of any future NCAA legislation and guidelines.
The conference continues to utilize television to grow and promote the league and its member institutions. The Sun Belt Conference signed a new multi-year agreement with ESPN, Inc. in 2012 that results in unprecedented national coverage for the league. Fans of the Sun Belt Conference can look forward to seeing more Sun Belt teams playing on national television on ESPN and ESPN2 and additionally the ESPN deal will result in more coverage on ESPNU. ESPN will continue to televise the conference’s men’s basketball championship game for the 32nd straight season in 2013, marking its longest affiliation with any conference in the country.
The conference’s regional television partnership with Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) and Cox Sports Television (CST) enables live telecasts of Sun Belt events to reach millions of households. The addition of volleyball, baseball and softball to the conference’s television package has resulted in more national and regional television exposure for the league than at any time in its history.
Success has been easy to find in recent years as well.
Over the last five years the Sun Belt Conference ranks sixth out of the 11 FBS conferences in postseason bowl game winning percentage. In fact, the Sun Belt Conference ranks ahead of noted “BCS AQ” leagues – the ACC, Pac-12 and the Big Ten.
The Sun Belt Conference maintains tie-ins with the GoDaddy Bowl and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. A team from the Sun Belt Conference has played in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl since its inception in 2001. The SBC has won four consecutive R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl games and six out of the last seven. The GoDaddy bowl, meanwhile, has a four-year agreement in place with the Sun Belt Conference and Mid-American Conference to provide teams for the game.
Prominent Sun Belt alumni include Lyndon B. Johnson, former President of the United States (Texas State), former All-Star baseball player Luis Gonzalez (South Alabama), former member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives John Breaux (Louisiana-Lafayette), country music superstar Tim McGraw (Louisiana-Monroe), CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander Willie Robertson (Louisiana-Monroe) and DeMarcus Ware, an All-Pro NFL linebacker (Troy).
The Sun Belt Conference will contest the 2013 football season with eight members – Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky University. UALR and UT Arlington compete as non-football members. Come the 2014 season, the Sun Belt will have four new members in the league as Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were added as all-sports members and Idaho and New Mexico State have been added as football playing members.