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Sun Belt Conference
Established: 1976
Sun Belt Conference logo

NCAA Division I FBS
Members 13
Sports fielded 19 (men's: 9; women's: 10)
Region Southern United States
Headquarters New Orleans, Louisiana
Commissioner Wright Waters (since 1999)
Sun Belt Conference locations

The Sun Belt Conference is a college athletic conference that has been affiliated with the NCAA's Division I since 1976. Its football teams participate in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the higher of two levels of Division I football competition (formerly known as Division I-A). The Sun Belt has member institutions distributed primarily across the southern United States. It has 13 universities and colleges.



The Sun Belt Conference was founded on August 4, 1976 with New Orleans, South Alabama, Georgia State, Jacksonville, UNC Charlotte and South Florida. Over the next ten years the conference would add Western Kentucky, Old Dominion, UAB, and Virginia Commonwealth. Also, New Orleans was forced out of the league in 1980 due to its small on-campus gymnasium that the Conference did not deem suitable for Conference competition. UNO competed as an independent before joining the newly-formed American South Conference in 1987.

After the 199091 basketball season, all members of the Sun Belt except Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Jacksonville, and incoming member Arkansas-Little Rock departed for other conferences. The Sun Belt then merged with the American South Conference, made up of Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette), Texas-Pan American, New Orleans, Lamar, and Central Florida. UCF left the league following the 1991-92 academic year. Lamar, Texas-Pan American and Jacksonville departed at the end of the 1997-98 academic year. Florida International joined in 1998, and Denver was added in 1999. Louisiana Tech departed after the 2000-01 academic year.

The conference did not sponsor football until 2001, when the league added former Big West Conference members New Mexico State and North Texas and then-independent Middle Tennessee State as full members and added independent Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) and Big West member Idaho as "football only" members. Another Big West school, Utah State, was added as a "football only" member in 2003, then departed in 2005 with Idaho and New Mexico State for the WAC.

In 2004, Troy became a "football only" member until 2005 when they joined the conference in all sports. In 2006, Louisiana-Monroe joined the conference as a member in all sports when it left the Southland Conference, and Florida Atlantic joined the conference in all sports.


Membership history timeline


Florida International joined the league for football, and Louisiana-Monroe and Florida Atlantic joined the league as a member in all sports on July 1, 2005. Western Kentucky joined the Sun Belt Conference for football in 2009 after its Board of Regents voted to upgrade the school's football program to Division I FBS.[1] South Alabama will begin fielding a football team in 2009, with the intention of moving up to full FBS status by 2013.

On November 11, 2009, New Orleans announced they were investigating a move from Division I to the NCAA's Division III. On January 20, 2010, UNO made it official, announcing their membership in the Sun Belt would come to an end July 1, 2010.[2]


The Sun Belt conference office has been headquartered in downtown New Orleans since 2000, after moving from suburban Metairie, Louisiana where it had been based since 1991. Prior to moving to the “Big Easy” the league was based in Tampa, Florida from 1977–1991. The original conference office was located in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1976–77.


  • Vic Bubas (1976–1990)
  • Jim Lessig (1990–1991)
  • Craig Thompson (1991–1998)
  • Wright Waters (1999–present)

In addition to the four Sun Belt commissioners, three future league leaders served on the Sun Belt staff prior to becoming conference commissioners, including Doug Elgin (Missouri Valley), John Iamarino (Northeast, Southern) and Tom Burnett (Southland).

Current members

Institution Nickname Location Founded Affiliation Enrollment Football Member Endowment
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans Little Rock, Arkansas
1927 Public 12,000 No $7.6 million
Arkansas State University Red Wolves Jonesboro, Arkansas
1909 Public 16,494 Yes $33.1 million
University of Denver Pioneers Denver, Colorado
1864 Private/Non-sectarian 9,846 No $300.4 million
Florida Atlantic University Owls Boca Raton, Florida
1964 Public 26,000 Yes $142 million
Florida International University Golden Panthers Miami, Florida
1965 Public 39,500 Yes $117 million
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns Lafayette, Louisiana
1900 Public 18,079 Yes $93 million
University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks Monroe, Louisiana
1931 Public 8,140 Yes $20.6 million
Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders Murfreesboro, Tennessee
1911 Public 22,554 Yes $23.8 million
University of New Orleans Privateers New Orleans, Louisiana
1958 Public 11,300 No $15.5 million
University of North Texas Mean Green Denton, Texas
1890 Public 36,206 Yes $87.8 million
University of South Alabama Jaguars Mobile, Alabama
1963 Public 14,003 Yes (2013) $207.3 million
Troy University Trojans Troy, Alabama
1887 Public 6,671 Yes $27 million
Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers Bowling Green, Kentucky
1906 Public 18,391 Yes $144 million
Locations of current Sun Belt Conference full member institutions.

Conference facilities

School Football Stadium Capacity Basketball Arena Capacity Baseball Stadium Capacity
Arkansas Little-Rock Non-football school N/A Jack Stephens Center 5,600 Gary Hogan Field 2,550
Arkansas State ASU Stadium 33,410 Convocation Center 10,925 Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field 1,000
Denver Non-football school N/A Magness Arena 7,200 Non-Baseball School N/A
Florida Atlantic Lockhart Stadium* 20,450 FAU Arena 5,000 FAU Baseball Stadium 3,000
Florida International FIU Stadium** 20,000 U.S. Century Bank Arena 6,000 FIU Baseball Stadium 2,000
Louisiana-Lafayette Cajun Field 31,000 Cajundome 11,550 M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field 3,755
ULM Malone Stadium 30,427 Fant-Ewing Coliseum 7,085 Warhawk Field 1,800
Middle Tennessee State Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium 31,000 Murphy Center 11,520 Reese Smith Jr. Field 2,600
New Orleans Non-football school N/A UNO Lakefront Arena 10,000 Maestri Field 4,200
North Texas Fouts Field 30,500 UNT Coliseum 10,040 Non-Baseball School N/A
South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium*** 40,646 Mitchell Center 10,041 Eddie Stanky Field 4,500
Troy Movie Gallery Stadium 30,000 Trojan Arena 4,000 Riddle-Pace Field 2,000
Western Kentucky Houchens Industries - L. T. Smith Stadium 22,000 E. A. Diddle Arena 8,300 Nick Denes Field 1500


  • Arkansas-Little Rock normally plays its home games on campus, but occasionally plays at Alltel Arena.
  • Troy will soon be constructing a new 5,600-6,000 seat multi-purpose arena to replace the current Trojan Arena. It is due to be open in 2011.
  • *At least one home game a year is played at LandShark Stadium in Miami Gardens (home of the NFL Miami Dolphins and NCAA Miami Hurricanes). FAU is constructing an on campus 30,000 seat stadium (FAU stadium) to open for their 2010 season.
  • **Florida International University's FIU Stadium is currently undergoing expansions for an increased seating capacity to 45,000. The expansion being done in two separate phases, phase one was finished for the Fall 2008 season and phase two will be completed by Fall 2010. The school also used the now-razed Miami Orange Bowl as its home stadium for the 2007 season.
  • ***South Alabama began a football team in 2009, with its first year of Sun Belt play in 2013.



Champions by year:

Season Champion Conference Record
2001 Middle Tennessee State 5-1
North Texas* 5-1
2002 North Texas 6-0
2003 North Texas 7-0
2004 North Texas 7-0
2005 Arkansas State** 5-2
Louisiana-Lafayette 5-2
ULM 5-2
2006 Middle Tennessee State 6-1
Troy*** 6-1
2007 Troy 6-1
Florida Atlantic**** 6-1
2008 Troy 6-1
2009 Troy 8-0

* North Texas won the conference's automatic bowl bid because it won the head-to-head game against Middle Tennessee. Also, North Texas had a losing overall record in 2001 and was not technically bowl-eligible, but the NCAA granted the team an exemption because it had won the conference. This is similar to what is granted to a basketball or baseball team which has a losing overall record but wins its conference tournament.
** Arkansas State won the conference's automatic bowl bid through a three-way tiebreaker.
*** Troy won the conference's automatic bowl bid through a tiebreaker by virtue of its head-to-head victory against Middle Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee earned a bid to the Motor City Bowl in Detroit.
**** Florida Atlantic won the conference's automatic bowl bid through a tiebreaker by virtue of its head-to-head victory against Troy.

Bowl affiliates

New Orleans Bowl GMAC Bowl St. Petersburg Bowl Independence Bowl Bowl Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Sun Belt vs. C-USA
Sun Belt vs. MAC
Sun Belt serves as an alternate for Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, MAC and SEC.

Bowl history

W/L Date Sun Belt Opponent Score Bowl
L December 18, 2001 North Texas Colorado State 20-45 New Orleans Bowl
W December 17, 2002 North Texas Cincinnati 24-19 New Orleans Bowl
L December 16, 2003 North Texas Memphis 17-27 New Orleans Bowl
L December 14, 2004 North Texas Southern Miss 10-31 New Orleans Bowl
L December 30, 2004 Troy Northern Illinois 21-34 Silicon Valley Classic
L December 20, 2005 Arkansas State Southern Miss 19-31 New Orleans Bowl
W December 22, 2006 Troy Rice 41-17 New Orleans Bowl
L December 26, 2006 Middle Tennessee Central Michigan 14-31 Motor City Bowl
W December 21, 2007 Florida Atlantic Memphis 44-27 New Orleans Bowl
L December 21, 2008 Troy Southern Miss 27-30 (OT) New Orleans Bowl
W December 26, 2008 Florida Atlantic Central Michigan 24-21 Motor City Bowl
W December 20, 2009 Middle Tennessee Southern Miss 42-32 New Orleans Bowl
L January 6, 2010 Troy Central Michigan 41-44 (2OT) GMAC Bowl


Season Men's Regular Season Champion Men's Tournament Champion Women's Regular Season Champion Women's Tournament Champion
1977 UNC Charlotte UNC Charlotte No Regular Season No Tournament
1978 UNC Charlotte New Orleans No Regular Season No Tournament
1979 South Alabama Jacksonville No Regular Season No Tournament
1980 South Alabama VCU No Regular Season No Tournament
1981 VCU VCU No Regular Season No Tournament
1982 UAB UAB No Regular Season No Tournament
1983 VCU UAB Old Dominion Old Dominion
1984 VCU UAB Old Dominion Old Dominion
1985 VCU VCU Old Dominion Old Dominion
1986 Old Dominion Jacksonville Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
1987 Western Kentucky UAB Old Dominion Old Dominion
1988 UNC Charlotte UNC Charlotte Old Dominion Western Kentucky
1989 South Alabama South Alabama Old Dominion Western Kentucky
1990 UAB South Florida UAB Old Dominion
1991 South Alabama South Alabama UAB Western Kentucky
1992 Southwestern Louisiana Southwestern Louisiana Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
1993 New Orleans Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
1994 Western Kentucky Southwestern Louisiana Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
1995 Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Louisiana Tech Western Kentucky
1996 UALR New Orleans Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
1997 South Alabama South Alabama Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
1998 South Alabama South Alabama Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
1999 Louisiana Tech Arkansas State Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
2000 Louisiana-Lafayette Louisiana-Lafayette Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
2001 Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech
2002 Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Florida International Florida International
2003 Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
2004 Louisiana-Lafayette Louisiana-Lafayette South Alabama Middle Tennessee
2005 Denver Louisiana-Lafayette Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee
2006 Western Kentucky South Alabama Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee
2007 South Alabama North Texas Middle Tennessee Middle Tennessee
2008 South Alabama Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Western Kentucky
2009 Western Kentucky Western Kentucky Middle Tennessee Middle Tennessee
2010 Troy North Texas UALR Middle Tennessee

See also:


The Sun Belt Conference has sponsored an annual baseball tournament to determine the conference winner since 1978. South Alabama has (by far) won the most championships, at 11.

School Tourney Titles Title Years
South Alabama 11 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2005
New Orleans 3 1978, 1979, 2007
South Florida 3 1982, 1986, 1990
Western Kentucky 2 2004, 2008
Middle Tennessee 2 2003, 2009
Lamar 2 1993, 1995
Troy 1 2006
Florida International 1 1999
Louisiana-Lafayette 1 1998
Arkansas State 1 1994
Old Dominion 1 1985
Jacksonville 1 1989
New Mexico State 1 2002
Virginia Commonwealth 1 1988
Alabama-Birmingham 1 1991

Other sports

Besides football, basketball, and baseball, the Sun Belt Conference sponsors intercollegiate competition in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s softball, men's and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, and women’s volleyball. While the conference does not sponsor men's soccer, four schools do have teams, with Denver competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, Florida Atlantic in the Mid-American Conference, Florida International in Conference USA, and Western Kentucky in the Missouri Valley Conference. Denver, the only Sun Belt member school with a varsity ice hockey program, is also a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.


Intraconference rivalries

Rivalry Sport Significant Game Trophy
Florida Atlantic - FIU All Shula Bowl (football) The Shula Award
UALR - Arkansas State All
Louisiana-Lafayette - ULM All Battle on the Bayou (football)
Middle Tennessee - Troy Football Battle for the Palladium The Palladium
Middle Tennessee - Western Kentucky All

Interconference rivalries

Rivalry Sport Significant Game Trophy
Eastern Kentucky - Western Kentucky Football Battle of the Bluegrass
FIU - University of Miami All
Arkansas State - University of Memphis All Paint Bucket Bowl (football)
New Orleans - Tulane Basketball, Baseball First NBC Cup (Baseball)
North Texas - SMU Football Safeway Bowl

Former members

Affiliate members

Missouri State, Southern Illinois, University of Evansville, Eastern Michigan University, Ball State University, the University at Buffalo and Miami University began competing in the Mid-American Conference in men's swimming and diving, in 2008 up to 2015.

See also

External links

Notes and references

Simple English

This is a list of colleges and universities who play sports in the Sun Belt Conference:

  • Arkansas State University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida International University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Troy University
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • University of Denver
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe
  • University of New Orleans
  • University of North Texas
  • University of South Alabama
  • Western Kentucky University


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