Massaro Speaks

With conference expansion and realignment prospects cooling off ahead of the Sun Belt Conference's annual meetings in Destin, Fla. in a few weeks, Middle Tennessee's athletic director said he would support expansion within the league but only under certain circumstances.

When asked if he was in favor of expansion, Chris Massaro said, "Of course, but it has to be to everyone's economic advantage and one that will add to the perception and strength of the league. However, these will not be decisions made by the athletic directors in the Sun Belt. Our presidents will handle any possible expansion."

President Sydney McPhee whose comments to the Daily News Journal differed slightly with statements made by other university presidents in the Sun Belt Conference reiterated that there have been no serious discussions about membership recently.

Given the feedback from University officials and the Sun Belt Conference, it appears more likely that no expansion will occur this year unless something changes in the 11th hour and its not even clear if the topic will be on the agenda at the annual meetings later this month. One of the issues that may arise without a Sun Belt expansion is likely to be a scheduling conundrum particularly for basketball. An even number of football playing members will result in an odd number that compete in basketball in 2012 as South Alabama ascends to the highest level in football and Denver leaves for the WAC. Arkansas-Little Rock will become the only non-football playing member in the league with the departure of Denver.

However, Massaro didn't seem too concerned with those issues and reiterated the primary objective is the right mix of institutions that bring value to the conference regardless of the number.

"There's always ways to work around issues," he said. "We just have to have membership that works for the Sun Belt Conference."

For months, Louisiana Tech has been a topic of discussion in Sun Belt circles after school officials reached out to several administrators at institutions that are current Sun Belt members.

Despite sources affiliated with institutions within the Sun Belt confirming that Louisiana Tech had in fact reached out to their universities, officials at the Ruston-based school including athletic director, Bruce Van de Velde, have continued to deny any such contact.

In what is perhaps the most genuine response we have received on the record, Massaro offered this simple assessment of that situation.

"It's not fair to talk about a particular institution."

Stay tuned to for the latest news on the Sun Belt's expansion picture.

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