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Western Kentucky’s Likely Exit From Sun Belt Could Add Kink in Sun Belt’s Plan of 12 Football Teams

By Jesse Wood

April 1, 2013. ASU Athletic Director Charlie Cobb released a statement on Monday regarding the likely exit of Western Kentucky from the Sun Belt Conference, which ASU recently announced it would be moving to in the summer of 2014.

Cobb at the press conference announcing ASU's move to the Sun Belt. Photo by Jesse Wood
Cobb at the press conference announcing ASU’s move to the Sun Belt. Photo by Jesse Wood

“We were aware of the possibility of Western Kentucky’s departure from the Sun Belt Conference when we accepted the Sun Belt’s invitation for membership last week,” Cobb said. “We are fully confident that Commissioner Karl Benson and the conference’s chancellors and presidents will identify a valued replacement as quickly as possible and that the Sun Belt will continue to meet Appalachian State’s stated goals as a Division I FBS conference that cultivates geographic rivalries and makes financial sense for our University.”

The exit of Western Kentucky could put a kink in Benson’s plan of having 12 football-playing members for the 2014 season. Recently ASU and Georgia Southern announced it was moving into the Sun Belt, and two other soon-to-be FBS independent teams – New Mexico State and Idaho – are expected to be moving in as well.

This would leave the Sun Belt Conference with 12 football-playing members, meaning the Sun Belt could have two regional divisions, which would allow for a conference-championship game between the leaders of each of those two divisions, a strategy that Benson mentioned at the press conference last week on the campus of ASU.

The potential move of Western Kentucky to Conference USA has been on Benson’s radar, as he mentioned the following at the Sun Belt Conference’s basketball tournament in Hot Springs, Ark., last month

“I guess the good news,” Benson said in Hot Springs, “is there are many (candidates) in our pool that, if (WKU exits), we can quickly get to Plan B,” Benson said, according to The Daily Advertiser

For photos from the press conference and much more info about ASU’s move to the Sun Belt, click here