Georgia Southern’s appeal of the decision by the NCAA to bar the Eagles from playing in a bowl game was denied Tuesday afternoon.
Georgia Southern (9-3, 8-0 Sun Belt) is, per NCAA rules, barred from playing in a bowl because the program is in its second year of transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“It was imperative for our student-athletes’ benefit that President Keel and I took this appeal to the highest level and explored the possibility of being able to go to a bowl game, and unfortunately with (Tuesday’s) decision, they have been denied for the second year to compete in postseason,” Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein said in a statement. “Even though Georgia Southern may not be considered a ‘deserving team’ by the committee’s definition, what this team accomplished is nothing short of extraordinary, and we felt our efforts warranted a chance to continue to play.”
The Eagles were ineligible for the 2013 FCS playoffs under the same rule.
After the Eagles earned a share of the 2014 Sun Belt championship, athletic director Tom Kleinlein said the program asked for a waiver to play in a bowl game. The waiver was denied, and Kleinlein said the program appealed the decision after the Eagles beat UL Monroe 22-16 on Saturday to earn the outright Sun Belt title.
Georgia Southern will be a full member of the FBS next season.
All other GSU sports are immediately eligible for Sun Belt titles and NCAA tournament berths.
The four bowl-eligible Sun Belt teams now await bowl placement. UL Lafayette (8-4, 7-1), Arkansas State (7-5, 5-3), Texas State (7-5, 5-3) and South Alabama (6-6, 5-3) are all bowl eligible.
Appalachian State (7-5, 6-2) is ineligible this season under the same rule as Georgia Southern.
The Sun Belt currently has bowl ties with three games -- New Orleans Bowl, GoDaddy Bowl and Camellia Bowl -- and with 80 teams already bowl eligible and the possibility of more after this weekend’s championship games, and only 76 bowl slots, it’s likely Georgia Southern won’t be the only Sun Belt team watching from home this bowl season.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.