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.