Georgia Southern, App State leaving SoCon for Sun Belt, reports say

Appalachian State, noted for its 2007 upset of Michigan, is leaving the SoCon for the Sun Belt Conference, along with Georgia Southern (File photo).

The long-rumored departures of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern from the Southern Conference will become fact this week, multiple reports said today.

The two SoCon football powerhouses -- with nine FCS national titles between them -- will accept invitations to join the FBS Sun Belt Conference this week, reports said.

The Winston-Salem Journal first reported App State’s decision, saying the Mountaineers’ announcement could come as soon as Wednesday. ESPN later confirmed that both schools will join the Sun Belt in 2015 in football, with other sports beginning Sun Belt play in 2014. ESPN also reported that both schools will be ineligible for the FCS playoffs in 2013 as they begin the two-year transition up to FBS.

College of Charleston also is leaving the SoCon for the Colonial Athletic Association this fall, leaving the SoCon with nine members for basketball and seven for football.

“If it happens, we need to find good schools that can compete academically and on the field,” said Citadel athletic director Larry Leckonby. “And from The Citadel’s perspective, we prefer that they not be too far away.”

SoCon commissioner John Iamarino said he thinks the league is well-positioned to replace the departing members.

“I would say we’ve been contacted by enough schools to fill a conference,” he said. “If and when the time comes for expansion, I think we will have very good options.”

Read more in Tuesday’s Post and Courier.