Benson: UT-Arlington to cap off immediate Sun Belt expansion

Brad Stephens

There will be no Sun Belt Conference football championship game in the immediate future.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said Wednesday that the league will stick to a 12 team, 10 football-playing school format for the foreseeable future.

Benson’s statements came on a league conference call announcing Texas-Arlington will join the league in 2013 as the Sun Belt’s 12th member.

UT-Arlington, like current member Arkansas-Little Rock, doesn’t field a football team.

The league’s other 10 members, including WKU, will all field Football Bowl Subdivision football teams in 2013.

UT-Arlington will join the Sun Belt after its lone year in Benson’s former league, the Western Athletic Conference.

UT-Arlington joins Texas State and Georgia State as schools added to the conference in recent months.

Our focus right now will be to build the two divisions to maximize the existing membership along with the three additions,” Benson said. “We believe that the 10 football-playing members that will comprise the Sun Belt are 10 very solid and quality football members.

“From a football standpoint, we are very satisfied with the strength and the numbers that we have. The two non-football playing members that we have fit in very nicely to the balance of the two divisions.”

Because 12 football-playing schools are required for a conference to put on a league championship game, the Sun Belt will remain without one for the time being.

“I think that the fact we’re indicating the statement like we are would indicate that membership believed that the current structure is right and that we need to grow the current,” Benson said. “The football championship game component is not necessary to consider.”

Sun Belt schools will continue playing eight conference games until at least 2015, Benson said.

After that, he said, the league may decide to keep an eight-conference game format or increase the number to nine.