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Karl Benson to step down as commissioner of Sun Belt Conference

NEW ORLEANS — Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson announced on Thursday that he is stepping down from his position at the end of his current contract, which expires June 30, 2019.

Benson has held the post for the last six years.

“I have labored over this decision for several months, but I know that now is the right time to step aside from the Sun Belt and conclude my career as a commissioner and in intercollegiate athletics,” Benson said.

“I am very proud of what the Sun Belt has been able to accomplish since starting here in 2012.  I greatly appreciate the leadership that the Presidents, Chancellors and Athletics Directors have provided both myself and the Sun Belt staff. They give us the needed support to drive the Conference’s existing members and new members to the next level. 

“Karl has dedicated himself to pushing the Sun Belt to the strongest possible place within intercollegiate athletics,” said Sun Belt and Georgia State President Dr. Mark P. Becker.  “The Conference has come a long way over the past six years due to his leadership and the strong team that he has built at the Conference office. 

Thanks to Karl, the conference is thriving and positioned for even greater success. The Sun Belt membership is thankful for the transformational leadership that he has provided.”

Benson came to the Sun Belt after serving as the Commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference since 1994.

During his time at the WAC, Benson developed numerous multi-year agreements with postseason football games while also serving on the NCAA Management Council from 1999-2002 and a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee from 2002-06.

Prior to his time at the WAC, Benson served as the Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference for four years.  There, he implemented several innovative projects and was instrumental in the formation of the Las Vegas Bowl. 

Benson is the only individual to have ever served as the Commissioner of three FBS/Division I-A conferences. 

“From the day I graduated from Boise State University in 1975, I have gotten up each morning to go to work in this great profession we call college sports,” Benson said upon reflection. “First as young baseball coach at my alma mater, then as an athletics administrator on a university campus, then the NCAA national office, and for the past 28 years working as the commissioner for three FBS conferences.”

Benson, now 66, will move back to Denver where he lived for 18 years while serving as the Commissioner of the WAC.

“When I took the job with the Sun Belt in 2012, I looked at it as a five to seven year assignment and knew I would return to Denver when it was over.  When Sarah and I were married in October 2016, that pretty much ‘sealed the deal’ and once I completed my current contract, I knew it would be the right time for me to step aside and let the next commissioner put their stamp on the next era for the Sun Belt.”