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Posted: 10:44 a.m. Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Georgia Southern to move to FBS, Sun Belt Conference

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Georgia Southern Eagles
Richard Burkhart, The Morning News
Defensive linemen run drills during Georgia Southern's spring football practice March 13 in Statesboro, Ga.

By Doug Roberson

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Southern’s move to the Sun Belt Conference is scheduled be announced at a news conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Statesboro, and the Eagles will be eligible to compete for all Sun Belt titles in 2014, according a person familiar with the negotiations.

After accepting an invitation to join, the conference is requiring that Georgia Southern declare its intention to the NCAA to move from the FCS level to the FBS level by June 1. Doing so will meet the NCAA’s deadline to be eligible to play on the FBS level by 2014, but it also will mean that the Eagles will be ineligible to compete for the FCS football championship in 2013.

The same criteria will apply to Appalachian State, which scheduled a similar news conference for Wednesday afternoon.

Also, neither the Eagles nor the Mountaineers will be eligible to compete in bowls in 2014 because of an NCAA rule, not a conference rule.

Multiple outlets reported Monday that both schools were going to leave the Southern Conference, where they have been football powers, to join the Sun Belt. There were other reports that New Mexico State and Idaho also will join the conference as football-only members for 2014.

The move will reunite the Eagles with Georgia State, which joined the Sun Belt last year. It will become an official member July 1. The schools were members of the Trans America Athletic Conference in the 1980s before both left to join other leagues.

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