July 1, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington Athletics begins a new and exciting chapter today with its official entrance into the Sun Belt Conference on July 1, 2013.
"We are honored and excited to join the Sun Belt Conference," UT Arlington President Dr. Vistasp M. Karbhari said. "I believe this represents an extraordinary opportunity for UT Arlington to continue on its journey to even greater athletic excellence. This is a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes."
UT Arlington athletic director Jim Baker echoed those sentiments.
"This is another watershed moment for our institution and athletic department," Baker said. "Our move to the Sun Belt Conference promotes stability in a regional conference with like-minded universities, while providing our student-athletes and coaches competition at the highest levels.
"We are extremely grateful to Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson for his tireless efforts in providing UT Arlington this opportunity. We believe in the vision and future of the Sun Belt. UT Arlington couldn't have found a better home than the Sun Belt."
UT Arlington sponsors 14 Division I intercollegiate sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field, and women's volleyball.
The move to the Sun Belt marks the third conference affiliation for the UT Arlington in just over a year. The Mavericks join the SBC after one year in the Western Athletic Conference. Before the WAC, UT Arlington spent nearly 50 years in the Southland Conference.
"The WAC was our home for the last year and couldn't have treated us any better," Baker said. "We wish nothing but the best for the WAC and its members."
The Mavericks begin competition as a Sun Belt member with the start of the volleyball season on Aug. 30.
About the Sun Belt
Formed in 1976 the Sun Belt Conference quickly rose to the greatest heights of collegiate athletics and the league continues to find itself at the pinnacle of competition as a member of the 10-league alliance of the Bowl Championship Series and soon-to-be College Football Playoff.
Because of its status as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Sun Belt Conference has a permanent seat on the NCAA's 18-member Board of Directors. As a result, the conference has a crucial voice on some of the most pressing issues in college athletics and will always have a role in the implementation of any future NCAA legislation and guidelines.
The conference continues to utilize television to grow and promote the league and its member institutions. The Sun Belt Conference signed a new multi-year agreement with ESPN, Inc. in 2012 that results in unprecedented national coverage for the league. Fans of the Sun Belt Conference can look forward to seeing more Sun Belt teams playing on national television on ESPN and ESPN2 and additionally the ESPN deal will result in more coverage on ESPNU. ESPN will continue to televise the conference's men's basketball championship game for the 32nd straight season in 2013, marking its longest affiliation with any conference in the country.
The conference's regional television partnership with Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) and Cox Sports Television (CST) enables live telecasts of Sun Belt events to reach millions of households. The addition of volleyball, baseball and softball to the conference's television package has resulted in more national and regional television exposure for the league than at any time in its history.
Sun Belt student-athletes have a history of performing well in the class room as well. With sights set on raised benchmarks, 96.2% of teams that will make up the 2013-14 Sun Belt Conference are performing above the future Academic Progress Rate (APR) standard of 930 as the NCAA released its latest figures in June. Beginning with 2012-13 NCAA Championships, teams must earn a minimum 900 four-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible to participate. For 2014-15 championships, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in championships. In 2015-16 and beyond, teams must earn a four-year APR of 930 to compete in championships. 153 of 159 Sun Belt teams are currently performing above the 930 benchmark.
Prominent Sun Belt alumni include Lyndon B. Johnson, former President of the United States (Texas State), former All-Star baseball player Luis Gonzalez (South Alabama), former member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives John Breaux (Louisiana-Lafayette), country music superstar Tim McGraw (Louisiana-Monroe), CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander Willie Robertson (Louisiana-Monroe) and DeMarcus Ware, an All-Pro NFL linebacker (Troy).
The Sun Belt Conference will contest the 2013 football season with eight members – Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky University. UALR and UT Arlington compete as non-football members. Come the 2014 season, the Sun Belt will have four new members in the league as Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were added as all-sports members and Idaho and New Mexico State have been added as football playing members.