The Sun Belt Conference has officially announced the addition of the Idaho Vandals and the New Mexico State Aggies, effective July 1, 2014.
Both schools are playing the 2013 season as FBS Independents. Since they are already at the FBS level, they can immediately compete for the Sun Belt Conference championship and accept bowl invitations.
Idaho and New Mexico State were formerly members of the Sun Belt Conference from 2001 through 2004. They each moved to the WAC in 2005, but went Independent after the conference opted to drop football after the 2012 season.
“Bringing Idaho and New Mexico State back for football gives our league stability without compromising quality,” said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University and President of the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee. “These are outstanding institutions with strong leadership and I join my fellow presidents and chancellors in welcoming them home to the Sun Belt Conference.”
The addition of Idaho and New Mexico State, coupled with yesterday’s addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, brings the total Sun Belt football membership to 12 for the 2014 season.
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, members of the Southern Conference in the FCS, will both be eligible to compete for the Sun Belt Championship for the 2014 season. After the 2015 season, both schools will then be eligible to participate in bowl games.
With 12 teams now in place for 2014, the Sun Belt will likely split into two geographical divisions (see our prediction below), with each division winner facing off in a championship game held on campus.
Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, South Alabama, Troy, Western Kentucky
Arkansas State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Texas State, UL Lafayette, ULM