Texas State is once again changing athletic conferences.
University officials held a press conference Wednesday morning to announce all Bobcat sports will begin play in the Sun Belt, effective July 1, 2013. The move gives Texas State its third athletic conference membership in three years.
The announcement comes a year and a half after Texas State declared its move to the Western Athletic Conference. The Bobcats, which are currently a member of the Southland Conference, will play the 2012-13 season in the WAC, before moving to the Sun Belt for 2013-14.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said Texas State is “a perfect fit” as the league is expected to lose North Texas and Florida International to Conference-USA.
“While the Sun Belt may lose (some) of its members in the coming days, Texas State is a tremendous replacement for the Sun Belt,” he said. “Our goal is to regionalize.”
Texas State announced this decision on the heels of other WAC members moving to separate athletic conferences. Utah State and San Jose State received invitations to join the Mountain West conference, effective in 2013. In addition to the two Sun Belt programs, Conference-USA sent invitations to UTSA and Louisiana Tech.
“I would be very hard pressed to say the WAC could survive in football,” said Larry Teis, Texas State athletic director. “Security is a big issue for all of us. We had eight members when we joined (the WAC) and within a week we were down to seven for football. I’m so glad the Sun Belt gave us an opportunity.”
Teis said while it is disappointing to change conferences before even officially becoming a member of the WAC, he is glad the opportunity was presented to join the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“It makes you sick at your stomach,” he said. “But you have to be invited by an FBS member to transition, and the WAC did that for us. We are fortunate the WAC gave us that opportunity. There are some teams in a lot worse situation than Texas State.”
There is a $300,000 entrance fee to become a member of the Sun Belt, according to Benson. However, Teis said Texas State will pay “no actual dollar exit fee from the WAC,” and will just lose revenue sharing after the 2012-13 season.
Benefits of joining the Sun Belt, according to Teis, are an easier, less expensive travel schedule, more stability and a chance to play national televised games, as the Sun Belt has a contract with ESPN.
While Texas State and UTSA will likely not be in the same athletic conference after the 2012-13 season, Teis wants to keep the I-35 rivalry going.
“It would be a shame if we didn’t play home-and-home with UTSA in every sport every year,” he said. “With college athletic finance today, to not bus 45 minutes down the road, is crazy. It would be crazy not to.”