College Sports: Appalachian State headed to Sun Belt
BOONE — Appalachian State Chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock announced Wednesday that the athletics programs will join the Sun Belt Conference, effective July 1, 2014.
With the move to the Sun Belt, ASU’s successful football program will transition to college football’s highest level, the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
“I am proud that Appalachian has this opportunity to compete in the Sun Belt Conference,” Peacock said. “Our student-athletes have earned the opportunity to participate at this level of collegiate athletics.”
Formed in 1976, the Sun Belt Conference is one of 11 conferences that sponsors Division I FBS football. Since 2007, the Sun Belt ranks fifth out of the 11 FBS conferences in postseason bowl game winning percentage.
“This is a great day for the Sun Belt Conference as we are very proud to have Appalachian State join us,” Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson said. “This is an institution with teams that compete at the highest level and an administration committed to providing a quality education to its students.”
Appalachian State joined NCAA Division I in 1970 and has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1971. The Mountaineers have competed at the NCAA Division I FCS level since 1982 and won an unprecedented three-consecutive national championships from 2005-07.
ASU’s has proven that it can compete against the best competition that college football offers with seven victories over FBS opponents since 1982, highlighted by its historic 34-32 triumph over fifth-ranked Michigan in 2007, which marked the first time that an FCS program ever toppled a nationally ranked FBS opponent.
Appalachian State’s athletic success is not limited to the gridiron. Appalachian’s men’s basketball program has won three Southern Conference North Division championships and made two postseason appearances in the last six years. Women’s basketball has won three of the last four Southern Conference regular-season titles and earned four-straight postseason berths. Baseball is coming off a 41-win season that included winning the SoCon championship and advancing to an NCAA Regional final. The Mountaineers’ powerful men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs have combined to win 98 SoCon team championships.
As a result of its all-around athletic success, Appalachian has won seven-straight and 32 of the last 35 Commissioner’s Cups as the Southern Conference’s top all-around men’s sports program.