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Originally published: 2013-04-02 11:21:48
Last modified: 2013-04-02 11:21:48

Western Kentucky leaves Sun Belt

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Just as Appalachian State joins the Sun Belt Conference, one team is leaving the league.

Western Kentucky announced Monday that it is leaving the Sun Belt to join Conference USA. Western Kentucky will join C-USA on July 1, 2014.

The move leaves the Sun Belt with 11 football playing team for the 2014. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, which also announced a move to the Sun Belt on March 27, will play their 2013 seasons in the Southern Conference. Both athletic programs join the Sun Belt on July 1, 2014.

Idaho and New Mexico State will also join the Sun Belt as football-only members.

The move does not come as a surprise to Appalachian State athletic director Charlie Cobb, who said he was aware of the possibility of Western Kentucky leaving the conference.

"We were aware of the possibility of Western Kentucky's departure from the Sun Belt Conference when we accepted the Sun Belt's invitation for membership last week," Cobb said in a statement released by ASU. "We are fully confident that Commissioner Karl Benson and the conference's chancellors and presidents will identify a valued replacement as quickly as possible and that the Sun Belt will continue to meet Appalachian State's stated goals as a Division I FBS conference that cultivates geographic rivalries and makes financial sense for our university."

Western Kentucky is the fifth Sun Belt program this year to leave for Conference USA. Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and North Texas are current members of the Sun Belt who are leaving for Conference USA after this spring.