NEW ORLEANS, LA (SUN BELT) – Coastal Carolina University has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference and will begin competing in all sports, with the exception of football, beginning with the 2016-17 season.
The Chanticleer football program will begin a transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision with its first year of full FBS status coming in 2018. During the transition, the Chanticleers will compete as a Sun Belt member in 2017 and have the opportunity to compete for the conference football championship, but they will not be eligible to participate in the postseason.
"The Sun Belt Conference has grown in strength today with the addition of Coastal Carolina University to its already thriving membership," said Sun Belt Conference President and Texas State University President Dr. Denise M. Trauth. "CCU is a well-rounded public institution that is reaching new heights with its remarkable growth. On behalf of the Sun Belt Conference Presidents and Chancellors, we welcome the addition of Coastal Carolina to the Sun Belt Conference."
Coastal Carolina University is a public liberal arts university located in Conway, S.C. - just eight miles west of Myrtle Beach. The university was founded in 1954, but notably, the university has seen its largest period of growth in the past decade. CCU was ranked 19th among Public Master's Institutions in enrollment growth during the 10-year period from 2002-2012 as enrollment grew by 56.1%.
Coastal Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award the baccalaureate, master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees. The University offers 67 areas of study toward the baccalaureate degree, and nine master's degree programs. The University began offering its first doctoral program – the Ph.D. in Marine Science: Coastal and Marine Systems Science – in Fall 2014.
"On behalf of all of us at Coastal Carolina University, I'm honored to accept the invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference," announced CCU President David A. DeCenzo. "I am grateful to Sun Belt Commissioner, Mr. Karl Benson, for his steadfast support of CCU, and to the Sun Belt presidents and chancellors, who honored CCU by selecting their 12th member school."
As a member of the Sun Belt Conference, the Chanticleer athletics program will compete in 16 sports - eight for men and eight for women. As CCU's athletic prominence has grown, so too have the facilities that Chanticleer student-athletes call home.
CCU opened the HTC Center in August 2012 and the $35 million facility provides more than 131,000 square feet of space that is the home of Chanticleer men's and women's basketball, and volleyball. In football, Brooks Stadium debuted on Sept. 6, 2003 and the $8.5 million Adkins Field House that opened in June 2010 is located on the north end of the stadium. In 2015 construction was completed on a $15.2 million renovation of both the baseball and softball facilities.
The process to upgrade Brooks Stadium to meet FBS football standards will launch immediately and will expand the facility to 20,000 seats.
During the 2014-15 season 10 of 18 CCU athletic programs made appearances in NCAA postseason competition. CCU was one of only five NCAA Division I universities to have its football, men's soccer, men's basketball and baseball teams qualify for NCAA postseason play in last season. Joining the Chanticleers were Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame and UCLA.
"This is a great day for the Sun Belt Conference as we are very proud to have Coastal Carolina University join our membership," said Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson. "The Sun Belt is a growing conference with a bright future and Coastal Carolina makes a perfect fit as it too has seen a tremendous amount of growth and has all the tools necessary to move forward at the highest level of collegiate athletics. Under the leadership of President David A. DeCenzo and Athletics Director Matt Hogue, I expect the Chanticleers to be competitive in all Sun Belt sports and to represent the conference in a first-class manner on and off the field."
The addition of Coastal Carolina brings the Sun Belt's full-time membership to 12 beginning next season. Further, the addition makes for a natural geographic split between East and West to allow for certain sports to compete in a divisional format. The six members that are located in the eastern half of the Sun Belt are: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, and Troy. The six members in the western half are: Arkansas State, Little Rock, UL Lafayette, UL Monroe, UT Arlington, and Texas State. Idaho and New Mexico State compete in the Sun Belt Conference as football only members. CCU's location makes for a natural geographical fit to the Sun Belt as it borders both North Carolina, home of Appalachian State, and Georgia, home to both Georgia State and Georgia Southern.