Georgia State Officially Full Sun Belt Member

After more than a year's worth of anticipation, the wait is finally over. At 12:01 a.m. on Monday, the Georgia State Athletic Department officially became a full member of the Sun Belt Conference and will now compete for championships in 14 league-sponsored sports starting this fall.

"This has been an exciting yet challenging process, and the hard work of our coaches, student-athletes and staff is finally being rewarded," Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick said. "Transitioning out of the CAA and bridging two conferences over the past year has not been easy for our teams. I want to thank each of the student-athletes and coaches for their dedication and handling the move with integrity and class." "Now, we look forward to playing a leadership role in the Sun Belt Conference and our teams competing for Sun Belt titles and postseason berths. It really is a tremendous day in Georgia State sports history." GSU's move onto a national stage in all sports officially began on April 9, 2012. At a press conference inside the Georgia Dome, Sun Belt Conference officials joined Georgia State President Mark Becker and Levick at the public announcement of the Panthers' impending conference move. A feasibility study in the fall of 2011 concluded the Panthers were well positioned to make the jump to the FBS level and that the Sun Belt would be an ideal fit. The rest has been history. The move now allows GSU to build on regional rivalries with several schools within driving distance, while also showcasing its talented teams to the country. It is a return home of sorts for Georgia State, which was a founding member of the Sun Belt Conference in 1976. At that time, the league consisted of six universities playing across four men's sports – basketball, soccer, tennis and golf. Today, the Sun Belt Conference sponsors 18 sports, including 14 that the Panthers will vie for conference titles. On the men's side, GSU will compete in baseball, basketball, football, golf and tennis, while women's sports include basketball, golf, cross country, soccer, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and court volleyball. GSU has also announced plans to add women's swimming and diving, another Sun Belt-sponsored sport. The Panthers already own two Sun Belt Conference titles in the past year. Ten individual sports were accepted into the league for 2012-13, giving the women's cross country and men's tennis teams a leg up on collecting hardware. Each squad won the Sun Belt title and helped Georgia State finish ahead of two SBC schools in the 2012-13 Vic Bubas Cup standings (an all sports trophy) despite competing in only half of the league's sports. Georgia State is coming off a strong year that included seven individual qualifiers for NCAA play, two conference players of the year, three league rookies of the year and two conference coaches of the year. Along the way, Panthers picked up two All-America honors, four freshman All-America accolades, 30 all-conference or all-rookie awards and 44 league weekly awards (player or rookie). In the classroom, GSU posted its 10th consecutive semester with a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0 for all teams while picking up two academic All-America honors and five academic all-district awards. Men's tennis senior Victor Valente was also named the prestigious NCAA Elite 89 award winner, the first in school history.

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