Coming off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in men’s basketball, Coastal Carolina will move all sports, including men’s and women’s basketball, to the Sun Belt beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, the conference announced on Tuesday.
The football team, formed in 2003, will remain in the FCS level for the 2016 season before elevating to the Sun Belt in 2017.
With the addition of Coastal Carolina, the Sun Belt becomes a 12-team basketball league in 2016-17. There is talk of Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson creating two separate divisions to split the conference, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
This is a good move for Coastal Carolina’s basketball program, which has shown great consistency with five postseason appearances over the last six seasons. Now they get to play in a stronger basketball league that includes Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, UL-Monroe and Georgia Southern all coming off of strong seasons. The Sun Belt has also produced some recent NBA players in R.J. Hunter and Elfrid Payton, so some of the best talent in the country has come from the league the last few seasons.
The Sun Belt also adds some depth in basketball with this move and it gives them a program who has sustained some recent success under head coach Cliff Ellis. Coastal Carolina moves from the Big South, where they finished 24-10 overall and 12-6 in league play before winning the Big South tournament title.
Former BYU guard Frank Bartley IV will continue his college basketball career at Louisiana-Lafayette, the school announced in a release. The 6-foot-3 guard will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but has two years of eligibility remaining after.
“Frank is a young man that we recruited out of high school and is a strong, athletic player that can get to the basket,” Marlin said. “He had a great (high school) career at Christian Life Academy and played a vital part in the success the last two years at BYU. He comes from a great family and he wanted an opportunity to come back home. We’re excited that he has enrolled at UL and will join our team.”
The commitment to the Ragin’ Cajuns means that Bartley will follow in the footsteps of his father, Frank Bartley III. The elder Bartley was an all-conference football player at the school.
During his sophomore season at BYU, Bartley IV averaged 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. In the Sun Belt, Bartley could be more of an impact player, especially after sitting out an additional season and working on his game.
Transfer guard originally headed to Louisiana Tech commits to Arkansas-Little Rock
As a result Ruttley reopened his recruitment, and Saturday morning it was reported by ESPN.com that he’s decided to attend Arkansas-Little Rock. News of Ruttley’s commitment was originally reported Friday night, but that proved to be premature.
The 6-foot-3 Ruttley averaged 17.4 points per game at Florida A&M last season after playing at Kaskaskia Community College. In announcing the addition of Ruttley to the program, Louisiana Tech stated that Florida A&M was working with them and the NCAA to ensure that Ruttley would be eligible to compete immediately due to a possible postseason ban for academic progress rate issues.
Now that Ruttley has picked UALR, the Trojans will likely need similar cooperation to ensure that the high-scoring guard can take the floor in 2015-16. UALR, which has a new head coach in Chris Beard, returns its top two scorers from last season in guard Josh Hagins and forward Roger Woods.
Ruttley is the fourth addition to the UALR program, joining junior college transfers Jalen Jackson and Lis Shoshi and freshman Tyson Batiste.