NEW ORLEANS, LA (Sun Belt) – The Sun Belt Conference concluded its two-day Fall Meeting Wednesday afternoon. The annual meeting took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans.
The meetings began Tuesday and items discussed over the course of the meeting included conference basketball scheduling, the men's and women's conference basketball championships, review of coaches recommendations from each sport, NCAA legislative proposals, football bowl arrangements, and institutional models for ESPN3 production.
As related to conference basketball scheduling, the Sun Belt's membership unanimously voted to play an 18-game conference schedule without a divisional structure beginning with the 2016-17 season.
"The addition of Coastal Carolina as the 12th Sun Belt member allowed for us to change our basketball schedule from the current 20-game format that is not ideal," said Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson. "Having reviewed a number of different formats with a varying number of games and both divisional and non-divisional formats, the membership agreed that the schedule passed today was the most efficient model. By using travel partners throughout the entire course of the season we are ensuring a competitive schedule that will limit the amount of missed classed time for student-athletes."
Specifically, the 18-game non-divisional format was met favorably because it maintains a travel partner schedule throughout the entirety of the season, guarantees only one single game trip the entire conference season (that being against the rival team), ensures that both men's and women's teams will have five Saturday or Sunday conference contests at home, eliminates conference split weekends (having to play a home and away contest on the same weekend), and it ensures that teams will play three consecutive conference road games only once – and that only occurs when a team is traveling to its rival. Further, no team will ever play more than three consecutive conference road games.
At this time no decisions have been made for the future of the Sun Belt Basketball tournament. The conference membership will continue to explore options for sites and formats with no timetable for a final decision. The 2016 Sun Belt Conference Basketball Championships will take place March 9-13 at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
The Sun Belt Conference's annual Fall Meeting includes each member school's Faculty Athletic Representative, Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator. Representatives from future member Coastal Carolina were also in attendance.