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Eagles headed to FBS, here's what was said
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Like it or not, Georgia Southern is bound for the Sun Belt Conference as fast as school leaders can get it there. The move was announced at a press conference today in Statesboro.

Here's what was said by GSU's president, AD and the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner.

Georgia Southern Conference Affiliation Press Conference
March 27, 2013 – Williams Center – Georgia Southern University

Dr. Brooks A. Keel
President of Georgia Southern University
Our student-athletes deserve the opportunity to compete and perform on
a national stage, and all of our academic people deserve to perform on
a national stage as well. This move helps us market the university and
get the word out beyond the reaches of Statesboro and our region.

Some folks are just afraid of change, just afraid of moving forward,
and I understand that and respect that. But we’re all about trying to
make this university the greatest we possibly can, and this an
opportunity to take us to another level and do just that. So I’m
hoping folks will get on board with this and will help us not only
because they love athletics but more importantly, because they love
this university and they love what this university is going to do for
the future of our country.

Tom Kleinlein
Director of Athletics at Georgia Southern University
What a great day for this institution and what a great day for Eagle
Nation. There are a ton of people to thank for this moment. This is a
great time and great opportunity for our athletic department to serve
the mission of the institution, and our job is to put our institution
on a bigger platform so we can talk about the great academic things
that are done on our campus. That’s why this movement is about our
entire institution.

Obviously, we know with this move, there will be challenges. Some of
them are immediate. But Eagle Nation has always stepped up. They’ve
always fought against the challenges, and they’ve always defeated the
challenges. I know the people who make up this institution will go out
every day and do the best they possibly can.

It’s a tremendous opportunity not only for our student-athletes but
it’s a tremendous opportunity for our economic area as well. When we
can play on a game on a Tuesday night or a Thursday night or on a
Saturday and we can bring ESPN here, that’s tremendous exposure not
only for our university but for corporate entities around Statesboro,
Savannah, Jacksonville and Atlanta that want to be a part of it.

In 10 years, I see us competing for championships within the Sun Belt
Conference. I see us being a nationally-recognized institution for
athletics and academics because of the exposure this move will have
given us.

Regarding football postseason eligibility:
If we declare June 1st, which is what our intention is, we will play
the 2013 season ineligible to compete for postseason in the FCS, which
renders us ineligible to compete for the Southern Conference
championship. We will be eligible for the football championship for
2014 in the Sun Belt Conference, and we will be eligible for a
football bowl game and the Sun Belt football championship in 2015.
Also, by declaring the way we will declare, we will be eligible to
start receiving and be a part of the revenue distribution associated
with the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.

Karl Benson
Commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference
Our member’s chancellors and presidents have evaluated Georgia
Southern, and there is a real affinity. The Sun Belt just got better
from a football standpoint with the addition of Georgia Southern.
Georgia Southern fits in the Sun Belt footprint, and I’m very
confident that under the leadership of Dr. Keel and Tom Kleinlein and
the coaches and all the student-athletes that Georgia Southern will be
a contributing member of the Sun Belt immediately when they start play
in 2014.

This is a very volatile and fluid time in college athletics and what
the Sun Belt is looking for from Georgia Southern is stability and
solid, credible programs that will allow the Sun Belt take a part here
in this region and build the Sun Belt in the state of Georgia.

One of the things that come with being an FBS member is greater
representation in the NCAA governance structure. So it’s important to
get that FBS label not just from a promotional and recruiting
standpoint but also from just the landscape of college athletics

By adding Georgia Southern, we will get back to that six-team division
in the east, and it will be compact. We’ve heard about the travel
demands that joining the Sun Belt will have on student-athletes and
teams, and we will minimize that because of the divisional play.

It is our intention that we would do a football championship game in
2014 and even though Georgia Southern would not be eligible for a bowl
game in 2014, if Georgia Southern wins the Eastern Division of the Sun
Belt, the first Sun Belt championship game could be right here in
Paulson Stadium.

Regarding football postseason eligibility:
The requirement and the expectation was that Georgia Southern start
that clock as soon as possible to be able to get to full FBS status by
the 2015 season. As the Sun Belt is going through reinventing itself
and re-establishing its membership, we needed Georgia Southern to
start that clock. We know that it does create some concern and some
issues for student-athletes, but whenever they start that clock, there
is going to be a certain number of student-athletes who won’t be
eligible for the FCS.

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