Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Meeting Ends: Sun Belt to remain at 11 and future bowl tie-ins possible

Sun Belt get's a little tough on school departures and looking to move forward!

Sun Belt Conference held its Annual Spring Meeting this week in Destin, Florida, Commissioner Karl Benson and company went through a normal meeting with very little getting accomplish in my view. Conference Athletic Directors, Coaches and Presidents all participated in the annual meeting including new conference members Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, New Mexico State, Idaho, Texas State, Georgia State and UT-Arlington. Here are some of the items that were on the agenda, discussed and came with a decision.

In basketball the conference will play 20 games and the basketball tournament will feature the standard No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7 and so on format for women, but a double-bye format for men.

The conference tournaments will move from Hot Springs, Ark., to New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA, and the tournament formats will remain the same with the top eight teams in the league advancing to the tournament. There is no divisional play - and the tournament beginning with a No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 first round. It will remain that way on the women's side for 2014.

In football the Sun Belt Conference has decided to play a eight conference game schedule beginning in 2014, with 11 playing members on the rooster if the conference decides against adding a 12th program for now.

The Sun Belt Conference also has released it new official logo and branding on Sunday for the conference beginning July 1st. The new logo will be represented by each of the 11 programs of the Sun Belt Conference, which I think is a great logo. It could have been better but it certainly will work. The new logo is located at the left of this post.

We also have learned that the Sun Belt Conference has extended its TV contract with Cox Sports and Comcast Sports Southeast for one year. Sun Belt Network will air seven high-definition football broadcasts as part of a minimum of 39 broadcasts that the network will air. We should expect to see more programming on ESPN 3 as usual and where I live we will be excluded from watching because we don’t have these networks and we are in the South Alabama media market. UMM!

We all want to know about who the Sun Belt Conference will add as a 12th team and if so when. According to today’s press conference with Commissioner Karl Benson and Conference President Jack Hawkins, the league will remain at 11 members for now. “There is no urgency to add another program, per Benson.” So we will not see a 12th team for now, maybe and again maybe in the future but no guarantee.  “There was and will continue to be ongoing discussion about national realignment and the membership options for the Sun Belt,” said Benson. “However, for the time being we are moving the conference forward with our membership as is. The most important thing to come out of the meeting regarding membership was that our institutions are committed to taking the Sun Belt to the next level. With our recent additions and the strength of our current members, the pieces are already in place for us to take the next step as a stronger conference.”

The Sun Belt Conference also updated its by-laws in regards to program departures. Sun Belt teams no longer allowed early departures a program must give at least 12 months’ notice of departure. According to Benson the Commissioner, the league also changed it exit fee but did not release any info on how much that would be. The 12 month early departure notice is non-negotiable.

Commissioner Benson also stated at the press conference that the $12 million dollars coming from the new College Playoff System will offset the loss of not having a conference title game.
In case you may already have heard the rumors, the Sun Belt Conference may add an additional bowl game in 2014 is still possible. The new bowl game is possible and could be played in Little Rock, AR. This would give the SBC three bowls –tie ins, at least the Commissioner is confident in this matter.

Now, that all of this is over for now at least this season, we move on and wait to see what the conference do to be proactive and not reactive. Commissioner Benson is the leader of the Sun Belt Conference along with the Conference President and neither has seemed to be in a proactive mode, except looking to remain a FBS but not a proactive conference that is looking to go to another level. In many ways some may argue they have and is, and I might agree to some. But there is a debate on how and when.

In my opinion, I would have never passed up the opportunity of adding a 12th team to the league and I’m pretty sure many of you are agreeing with me right now. A 12th team would add so much value to the league in creating a conference championship game in football. Also would have helped the league continue a two divisional play in all other sports such as basketball and football. It would have added additional revenue to the league in a championship standpoint for football. As we all know football is where the money is.

The fans was looking and hoping for this creation with the Sun Belt Conference. Oh, but no one in the conference leadership is telling us the fans or media on why they decided against adding a program such as Liberty. Thought I forgot-NO! They rejected Liberty saying they don’t fit the Sun Belt Conference. We as fans still want answers on that…and on why? I have a few but I would rather wait and let them tell you since they lead and I follow if they ever decide to do so.

Other news and decision from the Sun Belt Conference Meeting:

There was some changes and new appointments made in the conference leadership panel. You would be surprised at this – LOL.

According to the SBC website, The Sun Belt Conference also made appointments to significant leadership positions at the meeting. There were several key positions that had terms expire or were vacated, filling these positions are:

  • Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Board of Managers - Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Troy Chancellor
  • Bowl Championship Series (BCS) AD Advisory Group – Terry Mohajir, Arkansas State Athletic Director
  • Sun Belt Conference President – Dr. Nick J. Bruno, Louisiana-Monroe President
  • Sun Belt Conference Vice President – Dr. Denise M. Trauth, Texas State President
  • Sun Belt Conference Treasurer – Dr. Joel E. Anderson, UALR Chancellor
  • Sun Belt Conference Chair of Athletic Directors – Scott Farmer, Louisiana-Lafayette Athletic Director
  • Sun Belt Conference Chair of Faculty Representatives – Fred Green, Troy Faculty Representative

Did you see who is appointed to the Chair of Athletic Directors? – LOL Louisiana Lafayette AD Scott Farmer. Scott Farmer is an AD in the Sun Belt that has acknowledged on several occasions that he would like to take his programs to another conference if possible. Basically he wants out of the Sun Belt Conference. And then you have Dr. Nick J. Bruno appointed as the new Conference President – LOL I dare comment on that one, only if you knew. What a joke SBC?

The Sun Belt Conference developed a formula to distribute $600,000 in net revenue that was produced from the Sun Belt Conference’s four bowl games in 2012. The revenue will be distributed to the six football playing members eligible for end of year revenue distribution – Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky. Basically each program will receive an estimated $100,000 in revenue from the bowl revenue.

BRANDING & NEW LOGO: The Sun Belt Conference having unveiled a new logo and branding campaign, the league has committed $50,000 to each institution to help implement the new logo for the upcoming academic year.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS: The following sites were selected to host Sun Belt Conference Championships for 2013-14:

Women’s Golf – Steelwood Country Club, Loxley, Ala.
Men’s Golf – Grand Bear Golf Course, Saucier, Miss.
Men’s and Women’s Tennis – City Park Tennis Center, New Orleans, La.

The following sites were selected to host Sun Belt Conference Championships for 2014-15:

Cross Country – South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.
Soccer – South Alabama, Mobile, Ala.
Volleyball – Texas State, San Marcos, Texas
Outdoor Track and Field – Louisiana-Lafayette, Lafayette, La.
Softball – Texas State, San Marcos, Texas
Baseball – Troy, Troy, Ala.

Don’t anyone ever get wrong on this, I love the Sun Belt Conference and I am a big fan of the conference. I just want the conference to be a better conference for its fan and become the best conference in the new group of five. I would love to see this conference offer its members more in revenue and its fans a football championship game. It would help recruiting and add additional revenue to the league.

That is it for now on Spring Meetings for the Sun Belt Conference, if anything else develops I will be sure to inform you. Moving on now I will be releasing my Pre-Season Insider – All Sun Belt Team next month, along with my player watch list plus much more stay tuned.