There has been quite a stir this week in the Western Kentucky athletics community about the school’s future conference affiliation. Let’s set the record straight, shall we?
What we do know is that WKU is the Sun Belt Conference and will remain there throughout the 2013-14 season. That will not change.
What we also know is that WKU will soon be invited to join Conference USA, but as of this moment – Wednesday morning, March 26 – Western Kentucky does NOT have an official invitation.
That invitation will come soon, I can guarantee you that, but only when Tulsa officially announces its departure for the conference formerly known as the Big East. That move has been rumored for months and a myriad of media outlets this week have reported that move is imminent.
But until Tulsa itself actually holds an official press conference to announce said move, WKU and Conference USA will remain quiet.
We also know that New Mexico State and Idaho will soon join the Sun Belt Conference, but only as football-playing members. Neither of those moves are official, either, and will not occur until 2014 at the earliest, and only if their respective Board of Regents approve that affiliation. If you’re dreaming of a “Petrino Bowl” against the University of Idaho or a trip to Las Cruces, N.M., – continue to do so.
Reports also surfaced Tuesday that Western Kentucky coaches have told its players that this next season will be the Hilltoppers’ final one in the SBC. While that may be true, the school has not once held any sort of official meetings between coaches and players in regards to conference realignment.
I’ve also been asked repeatedly when all this will officially take place. There is no telling. These things are not set in stone, there is no mark on the calender. Just know that once Tulsa steps to the podium and announces its plans, WKU won’t be too far behind. Could be a couple days, could be a couple weeks.
As for the Sun Belt Conference, after adding Appalachian State and Georgia Southern Wednesday, I know not what direction they will head. They will need yet another school to fill the void left by WKU and they have options for that void. Commissioner Karl Benson stated clearly earlier this month in Hot Springs, Ark., that he and league presidents have a list of 15-20 schools that are options to be invited to join the SBC.
So my message to you, the WKU fan, is to sit tight. Worry not about the if and when, just kick back and reminisce about time well spent in the Sun Belt and the fun times to come in Conference USA.