REPORT: ASU could join Sun Belt Conference
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Appalachian State is close to accepting a bid to join the Sun Belt Conference.
Appalachian State, which got the go-ahead from its board of trustees to pursue a bid into a Football Bowl Subdivision conference in September 2011, could join the FBS Sun Belt Conference as early as Wednesday.
If offered a bid, reports say the Mountaineers could play as early as 2014.
Neither Appalachian State's athletic office nor the Sun Belt has
officially announced the Mountaineers will join the conference. ASU announced Tuesday it would hold a press conference at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
"We area aware of the reports that are out there, but at this time we can't confirm or deny their accuracy," Appalachian State athletic department spokesman Mike Flynn said.
The board of trustee's action came on the heels of an August 2011 recommendation from the Appalachian State feasibility committee, which took seven months to complete.
The Mountaineers currently play in the Southern Conference, which is in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Mountaineers face an exit fee of $600,000 if they decide to leave the conference with less than two year's notice.
The Sun Belt Conference is down to eight football-playing schools. The football playing schools for 2013 include Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky.
The Sun Belt dropped to eight football playing schools after Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and North Texas moved to Conference USA.
Appalachian State also sought to join Conference USA, but was not extended an invitation. The league took Charlotte, Texas-San Antonio, Florida Atlantic, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech, Florida International and North Texas. All are part of television markets bigger than the immediate Boone area.
The nonfootball playing members of the Sun Belt include Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas Arlington.
The Sun Belt has automatic tie-ins to the New Orleans Bowl and the Godaddy.com bowl. Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Western Kentucky all received bowl bids last season.
Appalachian State has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1971. The Mountaineers have won 11 SoCon championships and three FCS national championships.
Appalachian State reached the FCS playoffs for the eighth straight season last year, but lost 38-37 to Illinois State in overtime.
Georgia Southern, one of Appalachian State's rivals, is also reportedly looking to move up to the FBS, and is reportedly being considered for Sun Belt expansion.