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Sun Belt Conference: SBC Concludes Spring Meeting As Upward Rise Well-Displayed l

Divisional play in football to begin in 2018 


POINT CLEAR, Ala. – Backed by record revenues, the best Group of Five bowl record this past season, and firm stability in membership, the Sun Belt Conference concluded its annual Spring Meeting on a high note Monday.
"This year’s meeting had on display a level of solidarity that was uplifting," said Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson.  "The coaches and administrators in attendance have developed bonds that unite the conference throughout its 12 member institutions and I firmly believe that the bonds that have united the Sun Belt are a product of the hard work and foresight of our universities. Our membership has come together to form something special at the Sun Belt Conference." 
Present at the meetings were each Sun Belt institution’s president/chancellor, faculty athletic representative, athletic director, senior woman administrator, head football coach, and head men’s and women’s basketball coach.
Over the course of the meetings Sun Belt coaches and administrators approved a number of items. 
Among the items finalized was the establishment of the 2018 eight-game football schedule format with two five-team divisions, the criteria for determining the representatives in the Sun Belt Football Championship Game, and the determination of the host site for the game.
The two football divisions established beginning with the 2018 season are:
East: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Troy
West: Arkansas State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, Texas State
The winners of each division will meet in the championship game.  The game will be played at the home stadium of the divisional winner that has the best ranking in the College Football Playoff (CFP) poll.
Championship sites for other sports were awarded for the 2018-2019 season:
Cross Country: South Alabama
Volleyball: Georgia State
Softball: Texas State
Outdoor Track and Field: Arkansas State
Baseball: Coastal Carolina
Sun Belt administrators also approved a collaborative instant replay system for football.  This model, based on the Southeastern Conference’s setup, will allow officials in a central location to review replays and assist instant replay officials at each game.
The Sun Belt’s Executive Committee will see a change as Texas State University President Dr. Denise Trauth’s two-year term as Sun Belt President has come to an end.  Georgia State President Dr. Mark Becker will replace her as Sun Belt President.  Dr. Trauth will remain on the Executive Committee as the Past President. Louisiana President Dr. E. Joseph Savoie will take over as Vice President and South Alabama President Dr. Tony Waldrop will take over as Treasurer.
In regards to performance, evidence exists for claims of the Sun Belt’s success.  Notably, a four-year average of football computer rankings using the established membership of the Group of Five presents that the Sun Belt trails the American Athletic (AAC) and Mountain West (MWC) Conferences in team rankings but outranks both the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Conference USA (C-USA).  The Sun Belt finished third in a ranking among the five conferences following this past season.
The Sun Belt Conference’s success in bowl games gave another bragging point for the league this year as the six bowl teams combined for the second best winning percentage in all of college football – trailing only the Atlantic Coast Conference. 
In men’s basketball, the Sun Belt has shown marked improvement from the four years prior to realignment compared to the last four years post realignment.  The Sun Belt’s average RPI finish has shifted towards the top an average of 3.25 spots.  The MAC also saw positive gains with a 4.75 shift, while CUSA (�8.25) and the MWC (�5.75) both saw their average RPI numbers shift backwards.
Another number that is trending upward: revenue distribution.  Sun Belt institutions have seen their annual distribution skyrocket by nearly 200% since 2013.  Sun Belt revenue distribution has increased by 2,000% from a decade ago.
"Empirical evidence exists that clearly shows the Sun Belt’s upward trends," said Benson.  "Our on-field success can be documented, but it is also worth thinking about how much perception of the Sun Belt has changed.  We’ve caught the attention of the nation on a number of occasions and that has helped shift public opinion.  People recognize our conference and our member institutions – and most importantly they associate them with success.
"There is a universal sense that the Sun Belt is where it needs to be – strong and successful, but always willing to push the boundaries in order to find greater levels of achievement."