Inaugural Sun Belt Football Championship to be played in 2018

NEW ORLEANS, La. (sunbeltsports.org)- The Sun Belt Conference will hold its first ever football championship game as the league’s presidents and chancellors, as well as athletic directors, voted unanimously to play the game beginning in 2018. The announcement was made Wednesday.

“On behalf of the Sun Belt Conference’s Presidents and Chancellors I am excited to announce that the conference will conduct its first ever football championship game following the 2018 regular season,” said Sun Belt Conference and Texas State University President Dr. Denise Trauth. “We have furthered the mission of providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes as this will truly be a first-rate experience. I am also proud to say that the Sun Belt Conference presidents and chancellors, along with the athletic directors, were 100 percent unified in this decision. The unanimous vote carries with it a great sense of community and camaraderie for all of the Sun Belt Conference.”

“This is a historic moment that represents yet another step forward for the Sun Belt Conference,” said Commissioner Karl Benson. “The membership of the Sun Belt has been engaged in a significant number of advancements for the betterment of the league – to an extent this is the culmination of those efforts.”

“This past year we solidified our membership with the addition of Coastal Carolina and the decision to move forward as a 10-team football league. When the NCAA Division I Council passed new rules on championship games, we knew our 10-team lineup for 2018 was going to be ready to move forward with a vote. I applaud all of the leaders of the Sun Belt membership in their unanimity on this issue.”

We have furthered the mission of providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes as this will truly be a first-rate experience. I am also proud to say that the Sun Belt Conference presidents and chancellors, along with the athletic directors, were 100 percent unified in this decision.
TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT DR. DENISE TRAUTH
“Sun Belt football student-athletes will make everlasting memories playing in the championship game during the upcoming years. This championship will be a first-class experience – and we look forward to it being a launching-pad for a team to reach the College Football Playoff’s ‘New Year’s Six’ bowl games.”

Details regarding how the two participants will be selected will be available at a later date. Rules set forward by the Division I Council in January require conferences with fewer than 12 members to hold championship games in football, as long as they meet one of two conditions. A conference can choose to either play their championship game between division winners after round-robin competition in each division or between the top two teams in the conference standings following full round-robin, regular-season competition between all members of the conference.

What they are saying…

College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock
“This is a great development because it adds yet another important game to the menu that college football fans will be able to enjoy. For the CFP selection committee, the more games matching quality opponents, the better.”

Appalachian State Head Football Coach Scott Satterfield
“It’s exciting to know that we’ll join the other nine FBS conferences in holding a championship game. The first weekend of December has truly become ‘championship weekend’ in college football. To be able to participate in such a great event is something that coaches, student-athletes and fans will all embrace.”

Appalachian State Director of Athletics Doug Gillin
“One of our core values as an athletics department at Appalachian State is to provide a first-class experience for our student-athletes. By joining the rest of FBS in holding a conference championship game, every Sun Belt football student-athlete will compete for the opportunity to be a part of the title-game experience. This is a great step for the Sun Belt Conference.”

Arkansas State Head Football Coach Blake Anderson
“The Sun Belt has entrenched itself as a strong football league in the ‘Group of Five’, and now we’ve joined the other conferences with a championship game. Our conference continues to examine any and all opportunities for growth, and the addition of a championship game is another example of that.”

Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir
“A championship game will put a spotlight on the Sun Belt Conference, so any time you can attract that kind of national attention it is obviously a positive for the league and its membership. Not only will this bring additional TV exposure, it also presents our conference with the added excitement, prestige and pageantry associated with a championship game.”

Coastal Carolina Head Football Coach Joe Moglia
“I couldn’t be more excited that our league will be playing a championship football game. Every team in the league will have something extra to shoot for and a championship game experience will be one that the student-athletes will never forget.”

Coastal Carolina Director of Athletics Matt Hogue
“The championship game will provide the Sun Belt a significant opportunity to showcase the league’s prominence on the national landscape. This certainly adds to our excitement and anticipation of joining the conference.”

Georgia Southern Head Football Coach Tyson Summers
“The chance to play during championship weekend will be a great selling point for our program on the recruiting trail and it will also give the Sun Belt Conference an opportunity for additional exposure through our television partners.”

Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein
“I believe the championship game will be a great opportunity for the Sun Belt to be a part of a football championship weekend. It will also be positive experience for our fans and our student-athletes.”

Georgia State Head Football Coach Trent Miles
“Having a Sun Belt championship will create a memorable experience for our student-athletes to compete in a championship game. It also provides an opportunity for the conference to showcase its top two teams on a national stage while bringing the Sun Belt in line with all the other FBS conferences.”

Georgia State Director of Athletics Charlie Cobb
“The Sun Belt championship game is another exciting step forward for our conference and its football programs that will raise our profile and help us compete at the highest level.”

UL Lafayette Head Football Coach Mark Hudspeth
“We are excited about the Sun Belt Conference championship game. The championship game will add even more excitement and exposure to already one of the most competitive conferences in the country. It will also allow the conference to name a true champion.”

UL Lafayette Director of Athletics Scott Farmer
“Having a championship game will provide all participating student-athletes the experience of competing in a championship environment. It will help enhance and promote the brand of both our conference and our member institutions to a national audience, and it will add another opportunity to showcase our top teams each year in a highly competitive FBS conference.”

UL Monroe Head Football Coach Matt Viator
“It is exciting news to hear that we will have a Sun Belt championship game in the near future. It will be another goal that our program can strive for every year to get to the championship game. The game is also imperative to continue to move the Sun Belt forward.”

UL Monroe Director of Athletics Brian Wickstrom
“I think a conference championship game will add to an outstanding student-athlete experience the Sun Belt Conference already strives to deliver. The additional exposure of the game will provide one more opportunity for the college football world to see the rising strength of Sun Belt football programs.”

South Alabama Head Football Coach Joey Jones
“I’ve been a proponent of a championship game for the last three to four years. I feel like it will lift our conference level up to where we need to be by declaring a true champion and it will do nothing but help us to have an additional game on national television. I know that Commissioner Benson will make sure that it will be first-class like everything else he has done.”

South Alabama Director of Athletics Joel Erdmann
“The addition of the championship game adds another level of interest and excitement for our fans and all fans of college football. This is another step forward for the Sun Belt Conference and our football programs.”

Texas State Head Football Coach Everett Withers
“It is an exciting time for all of us in the Sun Belt Conference to know that a championship game will determine our champion. This shows the growth and enhancement of our conference. This will further provide evidence that the Sun Belt is as competitive and has as much quality as any college football conference.”

Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis
“We are now on the same level as our peers and will be playing on championship weekend with nine other FBS conferences. With only 10 conference championship games being played that weekend, it provides an opportunity to showcase the Sun Belt Conference and gives our football student-athletes another chance to compete for the regular season championship, and then participate in a bowl game. With five bowl tie ins and a championship game, the league has made tremendous strides in a short amount of time.”

Troy Head Football Coach Neal Brown
“The addition of championship game to the Sun Belt is a great enhancement to the student-athlete experience. Every competitive student-athlete wants the opportunity to play in a game with a championship on the line, and this should intensify an already competitive regular season league schedule.”

Troy Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain
“We are excited about the opportunity to showcase Sun Belt Conference football in a championship game format. We always strive to find ways to enhance the student-athlete experience, and by adding a football championship game we are providing another avenue for our football student-athletes to succeed.”

Categories: Troy