Courtesy University Sports Communications

5 Reasons the SunBelt Switch is a Smart Move

Considering Georgia State’s likely announcement today that it will leave the CAA to join the FBS SunBelt Conference, here’s a list of the top five reasons why the move is good for Georgia State.

1. National Profile:

Mark my words, FBS football will put Georgia State on the map.

Even if our first few years are miserable, FBS football puts us on a whole new level. Not only does it send a serious sign to recruits that we take our football program seriously, which means we can take steps now to build a better team, but it also helps solidify Georgia State’s rising status as an upcoming player in the college football market, something  absolutely crucial to the growth and name recognition of schools.

And don’t forget, Georgia State rests in the heart of downtown Atlanta, virtually the college football capital of the world, since it represents the second largest media market for college football with a population of approximately 2.6 million fans that regularly tune in to watch the game each week on TV.

That’s a lot of potential fans! And don’t forget the merchandise!

2. Alumni Support:

Ever wonder why schools like Georgia Tech and UGA get millions more in donations from alumni versus Georgia State? I’ll give you one guess. If you said “football,” then you’re dead on the money. No one wants to graduate from a school that no one has ever heard of, let alone give money to their athletic program.

Football gives alumni a better reason to support the team, both financially and physically, since it puts Georgia State’s name out there.

3. Degree Valuation:

Once Georgia State starts getting some airtime and serious sports coverage, our name will no longer be confined to our region, which means businesses and institutions in other states will give greater value to our degrees. Further, if we commit to developing a solid brand for ourselves through our athletic programs, prospective students will give pause to applying to Georgia State, considering we already have much to offer given our location in urban Atlanta and competitive degrees in certain programs.

Increased competition among applicants will help draw out those of a higher caliber, further reinforcing the value of Georgia State degrees in all fields. And while Georgia State is already known internationally for its post-grad business school, its other colleges are nothing to laugh at, either. Surely, Georgia State understands this and has factored these things into its growth models, since the university is already planning massive expansions.

FBS football is just the next step in that progression.

4. Culture:

Football breeds culture. It’s why expressions like “roll tide” can mean so much to fans or why rivalries like the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate even exist. College football, in particular, helps foster a special sort of pride in students and alumni — something Georgia State could use a little more of based on our historically low attendance to games, even when we’re doing well.

5. Spillover Recruiting:

While the CAA may have the most competitive mid-major basketball conference profile around, being able to brag about our FBS status won’t hurt our ability to recruit players either, both for football and other sports. Plus, considering the outstanding work Coach Hunter has been doing with our basketball team, we should compete very well, if not wipe the floor, with most of our now new conference competitors.


Today’s announcement is a game-changing moment for both the university and its athletics program. The invitation offers a tremendous opportunity for Georgia State to prove itself to a much larger audience, which will test Georgia State more than ever.
While I’ve previously argued for patience, upon further consideration of the market and substantial financial pressure, now is undoubtably the time for Georgia State to exit the CAA, which has served us admirably since 2005 but no longer fits the long-term needs of our university.

With the move, Georgia State can and should expect more people to pay attention to the work its men and women are doing here — just as they pay attention to schools like Georgia Tech or the University of Georgia.

The message? Georgia State will no longer tolerate being passed over by the press or by lackluster fans.

True, the first few years might require a difficult transition, particularly as our football team struggles to find its rhythm, but that should not define our program just yet. We are still a new team, after all, so we can’t expect too much, even with additional scholarships that FBS play will bring in.

But, in the end, the move is solid, and Georgia State should be proud.


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  1. […] with the announcement of our joining the Sunbelt Conference and the school’s release of its athletic master plan last week, the school has shown that it’s […]

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