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Gill on state of conference: ‘Sun Belt is rising’

With four new conference members, Commissioner Keith Gill believes 2022 will be the most anticipated and exciting football season in Sun Belt history. It’s one of the reasons he believes the league is well-positioned to get even stronger in a time of widespread uncertainty in college sports.

Gill delivered his annual state of the conference address to open Sun Belt Football Media Days on Tuesday in New Orleans, covering a wide range of topics and answering questions during the half hour. The commissioner began by touting the quality of athletics in the league with new members James Madison, Old Dominion, Marshall and Southern Miss joining the fold.

“With these additions to our already strong membership, the best non-autonomous FBS conference just got better,” Gill said. “We came out of realignment with 14 universities in 10 contiguous states united and committed to building nationally successful football programs coupled with overall athletic success. But our enthusiasm isn’t just limited to football — we aim to be good in every sport we sponsor. Regional rivalries and tight geography make for a conference with exciting matchups, passionate fans and competitive games that will excite our fans and the entire nation.”

Gill announced during the press conference that the Sun Belt is expanding its partnership with ESPN, which will provide the conference with more “resources, exposure and linear opportunities for Sun Belt football and basketball.”

While the new media rights deal does not add additional years to the deal, which runs through the 2030-31 academic year, it will add 6,000 live events to ESPN+, including men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, baseball and softball . Baseball and softball will each have 1,000 broadcasts and will have instant replay starting next season.

“The expanded agreement will provide financial resources and exposure to our members, allowing them to tell their stories and showcase the incredible athletic and academic achievements of Sun Belt student-athletes and member institutions,” Gill said.

The Sun Belt is already part of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Cure Bowl, the Myrtle Beach Bowl, the Lending Tree Bowl and the Camellia Bowl. Gill said the conference is “very close” to finalizing a sixth bowl partnership, which will begin this season.

While the league isn’t actively trying to add to its membership, the commissioner said he “wouldn’t take anything off the table.” If it makes sense to bring a like-minded Sun Belt school within the conference’s geographic footprint, Gill is open to exploring those opportunities. There’s no set number in Gill’s mind for the conference — he’d be fine with adding just one member to make it an odd-numbered 15-team conference if the new school had enough value.

Gill briefly addressed the impact NIL laws have had on college sports, saying while he thinks it’s generally good for creating business opportunities for student-athletes, which he argues, would like to see some amendments that would allow for better regulation of the laws.

The commissioner also supported an expanded College Football Playoff — specifically, a 12-team format that would give automatic bids to the six highest-ranked conference champions and the remaining bids to the six highest-ranked teams. .

“If past is prologue, you know, we’re struggling right now to figure out how to expand the CAP,” Gill said. “But I feel like we had some meetings in June and I thought they were really promising. I thought we found some common ground in this space. So we continue to talk, we will have other subsequent meetings. So I’m really optimistic that we’ll find enough common ground to be able to expand the College Football Playoff and I think there’s going to be an opportunity or a spot there for the sun belt.”

Sun Belt Football Media Days will continue Wednesday, with Texas State coach Jake Spavital, offensive lineman Kyle Hergel and outside linebacker Jordan Revels taking the main stage at 11 a.m.

“Last year was a great year for Sun Belt football. But the best is yet to come,” said Gill. “The Sun Belt Rises.”

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Gill on state of conference: ‘Sun Belt is rising’ Source link Gill on state of conference: ‘Sun Belt is rising’

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