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Sun sets on SoCon for Georgia Southern

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Sun sets on SoCon for Georgia Southern

The sun sets in front of a bronze statue of legendary Georgia Southern coach Erk Russell in this Jan. 11, file photo. Georgia Southern is officially a member of the Sun Belt as of today.

    It’s been long anticipated, but as of today, Georgia Southern is officially an all-sports member of the Sun Belt Conference.
    Georgia Southern accepted the Sun Belt’s invitation on March 27, 2013, and has been preparing for the move to the Sun Belt and out of the Southern Conference ever since.
    In fact, the only thing left to do for GSU was to remove SoCon logos from merchandise and media and replace them with Sun Belt branding. Turns out, that’s a lot of work.
    “I’d like to have it all done today,” Georgia Southern athletic director Tom Kleinlein said, “but the goal is to have it done before the start of the season.”
    Today’s bigger news is that the athletics budget for fiscal year 2015 went into effect. The budget grew due to increased student fees that were approved in a 2012 student vote, as well as increased revenue from television payouts and performance payouts based on how Sun Belt programs perform in non-conference games.
    “We proposed and passed a $16 million operating budget for the upcoming season,” Kleinlein said. “It’s what we’ll be working on this year, and it’s a pretty significant increase from what we’ve been working with.”
    Because some of the revenue is based on future outcomes, Kleinlein said the budget is based on the minimum GSU can receive.
    “We’ll see a check for that sometime around June 2015,” Kleinlein said. “We take the lowest number —we usually work with about $500,000, and we’ll go from there.”
    Georgia Southern has been a voting member of the Sun Belt since 2013 when it accepted the invitation.
    “We’ve been voting on anything that affects our membership, so we’ve voted on men’s soccer, championship venues, anything that impacts our membership,” Kleinlein said.
    The 2014 football season begins on Saturday, Aug. 30, when the Eagles face N.C. State on the road at 12:30 p.m.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.

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