|Sun Belt Conference|
|Region||Southern United States|
|Headquarters||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Commissioner||Keith Gill (since 2019)|
The Sun Belt Conference is a collegiate athletic conference that has been affiliated with the NCAA's Division I since 1976. Originally a non-football conference, the Sun Belt began sponsoring football in 2001. Its football teams participate in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The 12 member institutions of the Sun Belt are distributed primarily across the southern United States.
The Sun Belt Conference was founded on August 4, 1976 with the University of New Orleans, the University of South Alabama, Georgia State University, Jacksonville University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of South Florida. Over the next ten years the conference would add Western Kentucky University, Old Dominion University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Virginia Commonwealth University. New Orleans was forced out of the league in 1980 due to its small on-campus gymnasium that the Conference did not deem suitable for Conference competition. UNO competed as an independent before joining the newly formed American South Conference in 1987.
After the 1990-91 basketball season, all members of the Sun Belt, except Western Kentucky, South Alabama, and Jacksonville, departed for other conferences. The Sun Belt, including incoming member in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, then merged with the American South Conference, made up of Arkansas State University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), the University of Texas-Pan American (now merged into the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), New Orleans (re-joined), Lamar University, and the University of Central Florida. Although the American South was the larger conference, the merged league retained the Sun Belt name. Central Florida left the league following the 1991-92 academic year. Lamar, Texas-Pan American, and Jacksonville departed at the end of the 1997-98 academic year. Florida International University joined the Sun Belt in 1998, and the University of Denver was added in 1999. Louisiana Tech departed after the 2000-01 academic year.
The conference did not sponsor football until 2001, when the league added former Big West Conference members New Mexico State University and the University of North Texas and former Ohio Valley Conference member (an FBS Independent on football) Middle Tennessee State University as full members (all three of them joined a year earlier for all sports in the 2000-01 school year) and added FBS Independent University of Louisiana at Monroe and Big West member University of Idaho as "football-only" members. These new members gave the Sun Belt seven football playing members in their first season, as Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette were already full members which sponsored football. Another Big West school, Utah State University, was added as a "football-only" member in 2003, then departed in 2005 with Idaho and New Mexico State for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
In 2004, Troy University became a "football-only" member until the Trojans joined the conference in all sports, effectively in the 2005-06 academic year. In 2005, Florida Atlantic became a "football-only" member until the Owls joined the conference in all sports, effectively in the 2006-07 academic year. In 2006, Louisiana-Monroe joined the conference as an all-sports full member when the Warhawks left their former home, the Southland Conference.
On November 11, 2009, New Orleans announced it was investigating a move from Division I to the NCAA's Division III. In order to maintain athletic scholarships, UNO instead opted for entry into Division II. On April 20, 2011, UNO officially received transition approval from the NCAA Division II Membership Committee. (UNO later decided to remain in Division I, and joined the Southland Conference in 2013.)
On April 9, 2012, Georgia State, one of the founding members of the Sun Belt Conference, announced that it would be returning to the conference as a full member in 2013. As part of the move, the football program began a transition from FCS to FBS in the 2012 season; it played a full Sun Belt schedule as a "transitional" FBS member in 2013, and became a full FBS member, with bowl eligibility, in 2014. On May 2, 2012, Texas State University announced it would leave the WAC after just one year and join the Sun Belt in July 2013 to begin play for the 2013-14 academic year. At the press conference to announce Texas State's addition, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson also hinted that more changes could be on the way for the conference. On May 25, 2012, the conference announced that the University of Texas at Arlington had accepted an invitation to join the conference and would become a full member by 2013. UT Arlington does not field a football team.
On May 4, 2012, FIU and North Texas announced that they would be leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA on July 1, 2013 as part of a Conference USA expansion effort involving four other schools. On November 29, 2012, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State announced that they would also leave the Sun Belt for Conference USA. The move for Florida Atlantic and MTSU was originally scheduled to take place in 2014, however, the two schools announced on January 28, 2013 that they would leave for Conference USA a year early, departing on July 1, 2013 with FIU and North Texas. Western Kentucky also accepted an invitation to join Conference USA on April 1, 2013, and departed from the Sun Belt on July 1, 2014.
These moves depleted the Sun Belt and made the need to expand their membership more urgent than ever, as the Sun Belt was left with ten full members and only eight members that sponsor football (the minimum number required for a conference to sponsor football at the FBS level) for the 2013 season. Appalachian State University accepted an invitation on March 27, 2013 to join the Sun Belt effective July 1, 2014.Georgia Southern University accepted a similar Sun Belt invitation at the same time as Appalachian State. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern both joined for all sports from the Southern Conference on July 1, 2014. Both schools had been very successful within the Football Championship Subdivision, combining to win nine national championships since 1985. They upgraded to the Football Bowl Subdivision, and were eligible for Sun Belt conference championships in 2014, but were not postseason-eligible in football until 2015.
The Sun Belt also granted football-only invites to Idaho and New Mexico State on March 28, 2013. Idaho and New Mexico State were both former Sun Belt members (Idaho for football only, New Mexico State for all sports) from 2001 to 2005. The large number of defections from the WAC forced that conference to drop football after the 2012 season. Idaho and New Mexico State were the only remaining WAC members that sponsored football, and competed as FBS independents for the 2013 season before competing in the Sun Belt in 2014. Idaho is located by far the farthest away from the other Sun Belt conference members, but it was rejected by the Mountain West Conference, leaving it with no other choice.
On September 1, 2015, Coastal Carolina University accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference. The university joined in all sports except for football starting July 1, 2016, with football joining in 2017.
The conference announced on March 1, 2016, that the affiliation agreement with Idaho and New Mexico State would not be extended past the 2017 season.
The conference announced that beginning in 2018, the conference (10 teams) will be divided into two divisions for football: East: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Troy; West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, and Texas State. The winner of each division will meet in the Sun Belt Championship game.
|Appalachian State University||Boone, North Carolina||1899||2014||19,108||Mountaineers|
|Arkansas State University||Jonesboro, Arkansas||1909||1991||13,709||Red Wolves|
|Coastal Carolina University||Conway, South Carolina||1954||2016||10,641||Chanticleers|
|Georgia Southern University||Statesboro, Georgia||1906||2014||26,500||Eagles|
|Georgia State University||Atlanta, Georgia||1913||1976;
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock||Little Rock, Arkansas||1927||1991||11,681||Trojans|
|University of Louisiana||Lafayette, Louisiana||1898||1991||19,188||Ragin' Cajuns|
|University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe, Louisiana||1931||2006||9,060||Warhawks|
|University of South Alabama||Mobile, Alabama||1963||1976||14,834||Jaguars|
|Texas State University||San Marcos, Texas||1899||2013||38,644||Bobcats|
|University of Texas at Arlington||Arlington, Texas||1895||2013||43,939||Mavericks|
|Troy University||Troy, Alabama||1887||2005||20,000||Trojans|
|University of Central Arkansas||Conway, Arkansas||1907||2019||11,750||Bears[a]||soccer (M)||Southland|
|Howard University||Washington, D.C.||1867||2014||9,139||Bison||soccer (M)||MEAC|
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham, Alabama||1969||Blazers||1979||1991||C-USA|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, Florida||1963||Knights||1991||1992||The American|
|University of Denver||Denver, Colorado||1864||Pioneers||1999||2012||The Summit|
|Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, Florida||1961||Owls||2005||2013||C-USA|
|Florida International University||Miami, Florida||1965||Panthers||1998||2013||C-USA|
|Jacksonville University||Jacksonville, Florida||1934||Dolphins||1976||1998||Atlantic Sun|
|Lamar University||Beaumont, Texas||1923||Cardinals||1991||1998||Southland|
|Louisiana Tech University||Ruston, Louisiana||1894||Bulldogs & Lady Techsters||1991||2001||C-USA|
|Middle Tennessee State University||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||1911||Blue Raiders||2000||2013||C-USA|
|New Mexico State University||Las Cruces, New Mexico||1888||Aggies||2000||2005||WAC (non-FB)|
|University of New Orleans||New Orleans, Louisiana||1958||Privateers||1976;
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte, North Carolina||1946||49ers||1976||1991||C-USA|
|University of North Texas||Denton, Texas||1890||Mean Green||2000||2013||C-USA|
|Old Dominion University||Norfolk, Virginia||1930||Monarchs||1982||1991||C-USA|
|University of South Florida||Tampa, Florida||1956||Bulls||1976||1991||The American|
|University of Texas-Pan American||Edinburg, Texas||1927||Broncs||1991||1998||WAC|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond, Virginia||1838||Rams||1979||1991||Atlantic 10|
|Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green, Kentucky||1906||Hilltoppers & Lady Toppers||1982||2014||C-USA|
Sun Belt Sport[a]
|Hartwick College||Oneonta, New York||1797||Hawks||2014||2018||soccer (M)||Empire 8|
|University of Idaho||Moscow, Idaho||1889||Vandals||2001;
|New Jersey Institute of Technology||Newark, New Jersey||1881||Highlanders||2014||2016||soccer (M)||Atlantic Sun|
|New Mexico State University||Las Cruces, New Mexico||1888||Aggies||2000
|Utah State University||Logan, Utah||1888||Aggies||2003||2005||football||Mountain West|
Full members (all sports) Full members (non-football) Associate members (football-only) Associate members (other)
In addition to the five Sun Belt commissioners, three future league leaders served on the Sun Belt staff prior to becoming conference commissioners, including Doug Elgin (Missouri Valley), John Iamarino (Northeast, Southern) and Tom Burnett (Southland).
On October 12, 2011, ESPN reported that Wright Waters would retire, effective July 1, 2012. On February 15, 2012, Karl Benson was hired as the new commissioner of the Sun Belt, after having been the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference for 17 years. Waters would later move his departure date to March 15, allowing Benson to take over at that time.
Keith Gill was named the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference on March 18, 2019.    
The Sun Belt Conference sponsors championship competition in nine men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports.
|Track & Field Indoor|
|Track & Field Outdoor|
Member-by-member sponsorship of the nine men's SBC sports for the 2019-20 academic year.
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by the Sun Belt Conference which are played by Sun Belt schools:
Member-by-member sponsorship of the nine women's SBC sports for the 2019-20 academic year.
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by the Sun Belt Conference which are played by Sun Belt schools:
"RS" is regular season, "T" is tournament.
No current Sun Belt member has won an NCAA Division I team championship while a member of the conference. Four current members have won NCAA Division I team championships prior to joining the conference:
|Football (Division I-AA/FCS)||1985 o 1986 o 1989 o 1990 o 1999 o 2000|
|Football (Division I-AA/FCS)||2005 o 2006 o 2007|
|Football (Division I-AA/FCS)||1987|
|West Division||East Division|
|Arkansas State||Appalachian State|
|South Alabama||Georgia State|
The Sun Belt first began sponsoring football in 2001. It originally consisted of seven football playing schools, three of which are still members of the conference. Up until 2009, the conference only had a contract with one bowl, the New Orleans Bowl. Following the Sun Belt's improved football success and geographical membership changes, other bowls began to sign contracts with the Sun Belt Conference. As of November 2019 , the conference has six bowl game tie-ins.
Throughout the years, the conference has experienced flux in membership changes, similar to many other FBS conferences. The conference announced that beginning in 2018, the conference (10 teams after the departure of Idaho and New Mexico State) will be divided into two divisions for football: East: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and Troy; West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, and Texas State. The winner of each division will meet in the Sun Belt Championship game.
|Appalachian State||1928||628-338-28||.646||4||4-0||21||Eliah Drinkwitz|
|Arkansas State||1911||480-492-37||.494||8||3-5||14||Blake Anderson|
|Coastal Carolina||2003||127-77||.623||0||0-0||8||Jamey Chadwell|
|Georgia Southern||1924||333-147-1||.693||2||2-0||11||Chad Lunsford|
|Georgia State||2010||36-81||.308||2||1-1||0||Shawn Elliott|
|South Alabama||2009||57-69||.452||2||0-2||0||Steve Campbell|
|Texas State||1904||511-458-26||.527||0||0-0||12||Jake Spavital|
Starting in the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS Season, the Sun Belt Conference will host a football championship game.
|2001||Middle Tennessee State
|2006||Middle Tennessee State
As of the 2019-20 NCAA football bowl games, the Sun Belt Conference has tie-ins with the following bowl games:
|Arizona Bowl||Tucson, Arizona||MWC|
|Camellia Bowl||Montgomery, Alabama||MAC|
|Cure Bowl||Orlando, Florida||The American|
|Frisco Bowl||Frisco, Texas||The American|
|LendingTree Bowl||Mobile, Alabama||MAC|
|New Orleans Bowl||New Orleans, Louisiana||C-USA|
|Appalachian State||Georgia Southern||Deeper Than Hate||--||35
|Louisiana||Louisiana-Monroe||Battle on the Bayou||Wooden Boot||54
|Georgia State||Georgia Southern||Modern Day Hate||--||6
|South Alabama||Troy||Battle for the Belt||Belt||8
|Arkansas State||Memphis||Paint Bucket Bowl||--||59
|Louisiana||McNeese State||--||Cajun Crown||37
|Louisiana||Southeastern Louisiana||--||Cypress Mug||38
|Texas State||Nicholls State||Battle for the Paddle||Paddle||31
|Troy||Middle Tennessee||Battle for the Palladium||Palladium||20
|Appalachian State||Western Carolina||Battle for the Old Mountain Jug||Old Mountain Jug||78
Since the 2018-19 season, the Sun Belt Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments, held in early March, have involved only 10 of the conference's 12 teams, and have been bracketed in a semi-stepladder format. The bottom four seeds play in the first round; the 5 and 6 seeds receive byes to the second round, the 3 and 4 seeds to the quarterfinals, and the top two seeds to the semifinals. The semifinals and finals are held in New Orleans; the 2019 men's and women's events were at Lakefront Arena, and from 2020 will be at Smoothie King Center. Winners of the tournaments earn automatic bids to their respective NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.
|1977||North Carolina-Charlotte||North Carolina-Charlotte||No Regular Season||No Tournament|
|1978||North Carolina-Charlotte||New Orleans||No Regular Season||No Tournament|
|1979||South Alabama||Jacksonville||No Regular Season||No Tournament|
|1980||South Alabama||Virginia Commonwealth||No Regular Season||No Tournament|
|1981||Virginia Commonwealth||Virginia Commonwealth||No Regular Season||No Tournament|
|1982||Alabama-Birmingham||Alabama-Birmingham||No Regular Season||No Tournament|
|1983||Virginia Commonwealth||Alabama-Birmingham||Old Dominion||Old Dominion|
|1984||Virginia Commonwealth||Alabama-Birmingham||Old Dominion||Old Dominion|
|1985||Virginia Commonwealth||Virginia Commonwealth||Old Dominion||Old Dominion|
|1986||Old Dominion||Jacksonville||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|1987||Western Kentucky||Alabama-Birmingham||Old Dominion||Old Dominion|
|1988||North Carolina-Charlotte||North Carolina-Charlotte||Old Dominion||Western Kentucky|
|1989||South Alabama||South Alabama||Old Dominion||Western Kentucky|
|1990||Alabama-Birmingham||South Florida||Alabama-Birmingham||Old Dominion|
|1991||South Alabama||South Alabama||Alabama-Birmingham||Western Kentucky|
|1992||Southwestern Louisiana||Southwestern Louisiana||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|1993||New Orleans||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|1994||Western Kentucky||Southwestern Louisiana||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|1995||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Louisiana Tech||Western Kentucky|
|1996||Arkansas-Little Rock||New Orleans||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|1997||South Alabama||South Alabama||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|1998||South Alabama||South Alabama||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|1999||Louisiana Tech||Arkansas State||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|2000||Louisiana-Lafayette||Louisiana-Lafayette||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|2001||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Louisiana Tech||Louisiana Tech|
|2002||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Florida International||Florida International|
|2003||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|2004||Vacated||Vacated||South Alabama||Middle Tennessee State|
|2005||Denver||Vacated||Western Kentucky||Middle Tennessee State|
|2006||Western Kentucky||South Alabama||Western Kentucky||Middle Tennessee State|
|2007||South Alabama||North Texas||Middle Tennessee State||Middle Tennessee State|
|2008||South Alabama||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky|
|2009||Western Kentucky||Western Kentucky||Middle Tennessee State||Middle Tennessee State|
|2010||Troy||North Texas||Arkansas-Little Rock||Middle Tennessee State|
|2011||Florida Atlantic||Arkansas-Little Rock||Middle Tennessee State
|2012||Middle Tennessee State||Western Kentucky||Middle Tennessee State||Arkansas-Little Rock|
|2013||Middle Tennessee State||Western Kentucky||Middle Tennessee State||Arkansas-Little Rock|
|2014||Georgia State||Louisiana-Lafayette||Arkansas State||Western Kentucky|
|2015||Georgia State||Georgia State||Arkansas-Little Rock||Arkansas-Little Rock|
|2016||Little Rock||Little Rock||Arkansas State||Troy|
|2017||UT Arlington||Troy||Little Rock||Troy|
|2018||Louisiana||Georgia State||Little Rock||Little Rock|
|2019||Georgia State||Georgia State||Little Rock
The Sun Belt Conference has sponsored an annual baseball tournament to determine the conference winner since 1978. South Alabama has won the most championships, at 12.
|Appalachian State||Kidd Brewer Stadium||30,000||Holmes Center||8,325||Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium||1,000|
|Arkansas State||Centennial Bank Stadium||33,410||First National Bank Arena||10,563||Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field||1,200|
|Coastal Carolina||Brooks Stadium||20,000||HTC Center||3,370||Springs Brooks Stadium - Vrooman Field||5,400|
|Georgia Southern||Paulson Stadium||25,000||Hanner Fieldhouse||4,325||J. I. Clements Stadium||3,000|
|Georgia State||Georgia State Stadium||24,333||GSU Sports Arena||3,854||GSU Baseball Complex||1,092|
|Jack Stephens Center[a]||5,600||Gary Hogan Field||2,550|
|Louisiana||Cajun Field||41,426||Cajundome[b]||12,068||M.L. Tigue Moore Field||6,000|
|Louisiana-Monroe||Malone Stadium||30,427||Fant-Ewing Coliseum||7,085||Warhawk Field||1,800|
|South Alabama||Ladd-Peebles Stadium[c]||40,646||Mitchell Center||10,041||Eddie Stanky Field||4,500|
|Texas State||Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium||30,000||Strahan Coliseum||9,000||Bobcat Ballpark||2,000|
|College Park Center||7,000||Clay Gould Ballpark||1,600|
|Troy||Veterans Memorial Stadium||30,420||Trojan Arena||6,000||Riddle-Pace Field||2,000|
Two of the Sun Belt's member schools, Georgia State and UT Arlington are doctorate-granting universities with "very high research activity," the highest classification given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
|Appalachian State University||Public (UNC)||Master's (Larger)||$99,593,000||9 (Regional: South)||315|
|Arkansas State University||Public (ASU System)||R2 Doctoral/Research (Higher)||$66,217,000||68 (Regional: South)||N/A[d 1]|
|Coastal Carolina University||Public||Master's (Larger)||$39,432,000||52 (Regional: South)||N/A[d 2]|
|Georgia Southern University||Public (USG System)||R2 Doctoral/Research (Higher)||$50,999,000||RNP (National)||560|
|Georgia State University||Public (USG System)||R1 Doctoral/Research (Highest)||$155,303,000||187 (National)||530|
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock||Public (UA System)||R3 Doctoral/Research (Moderate)||$70,080,000||RNP (National)||608|
|University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Public (UL System)||R2 Doctoral/Research (Higher)||$178,300,000||RNP (National)||529|
|University of Louisiana at Monroe||Public (UL System)||R3 Doctoral/Research (Moderate)||$23,158,000||RNP (National)||N/A[d 3]|
|University of South Alabama||Public||R2 Doctoral/Research (Higher)||$555,735,000||RNP (National)||616|
|Texas State University||Public (TSU System)||R2 Doctoral/Research (Higher)||$186,676,000||RNP (National)||506|
|University of Texas at Arlington||Public (UT System)||R1 Doctoral/Research (Highest)||$155,277,000||221 (National)||558|
|Troy University||Public (TU System)||Master's (Larger)||$104,409,000||69 (Regional: South)||640|
PERMANENT SEATING FOR 1,000 plus grass seating for thousands more
Arena: GSU Sports Arena (3,854)
Trojan Arena, a 6,000-seat multi-purpose facility, opened in the fall of 2012.