The Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Georgia Southern Eagles will be joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2015, multiple sources have reported.
Both schools are members of the Southern Conference and are perennial powerhouses in the Football Championship Subdivision. Appalachian State has collected three national championships and won or shared the Southern Conference championship 12 times.
Georgia Southern has twice as many national championships as Appalachian State with six, but two less Southern Conference titles (ten). GSU also trails in the head-to-head series 11-14-1.
Appalachian State’s move to the FBS was first reported by the Winston-Salem Journal. They indicated that “University officials will accept an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference later this week, probably Wednesday, according to a source at ASU familiar with the negotiations.”
Last year, Appalachian State was in talks to join Conference USA, but the Mountaineers were not selected. They have been pursuing a move to the FBS since August 2011.
Georgia Southern’s possible move to the Sun Belt was also reported today. A source told SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey that “GSU will make the full move in 2015, with a transitional season in 2014 and no change to its 2013 schedule.”
GSU has a press conference set up for Wednesday where it’s expected they could announce the news.
The addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern would give the Sun Belt Conference ten football-playing members. Current members include Arkansas State, Georgia State, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, UL Lafayette, ULM, and Western Kentucky.
Earlier this month, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson told the media that they want to “make sure there’s at least 10 football schools while considering the option of 12” and they “have also talked about the strong possibility of having a football championship game.”
Benson also said they have “evaluated about 20 different perspective members.” New FBS independents Idaho and New Mexico State are possibilities, as well as several current FCS schools.
Update (5 p.m. ET)
Brett McMurphy of ESPN has confirmed Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will move to the Sun Belt in in 2015. Both schools will be ineligible for the FCS playoffs in 2013, and will be eligible for the Sun Belt Championship and bowl games in 2015.
Update (10 p.m. ET)
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports that Idaho and New Mexico will join the Sun Belt in 2014.