Coastal Carolina expected to join Sun Belt Conference

(STATS) - Coastal Carolina is expected to announce the university will become the 12th member of the Sun Belt Conference in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

News outlets reported the impending move Monday night after Coastal said its news conference regarded a "historic announcement" for the university located in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach.

Coastal Carolina, which competes in the Big South Conference, would join the Sun Belt as a full member in all sports but football next year. The Chanticleers' successful football program must wait until 2017 because of a one-year transition period for schools moving from the FCS to FBS level.

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The football team has won at least a share of the Big South title in each of the past three seasons and reached the FCS quarterfinals for two straight years under coach Joe Moglia. A teal-colored field was installed in the offseason at Brooks Stadium, whose 9,000-seat capacity is expected to be increased for it to be FBS-qualified. The Chanticleers averaged 8,729 fans over six home games last season.

Coastal's leaving would be a blow to Big South football, which has only seven teams and lost one of its top programs in Stony Brook after the 2012 season. Liberty, another Big South program, also seeks a move up to the FBS and had previous talks with the Sun Belt.

The Sun Belt reportedly settled on Coastal over Ohio Valley Conference member Eastern Kentucky. The Sun Belt has 11 members, although Texas-Arlington and Arkansas-Little Rock do not field football programs. In their place, Idaho and New Mexico are Sun Belt members only in football.