2021 Sun Belt Women’s Soccer Tournament is underway

Published 11:15 am Monday, November 1, 2021

The Sun Belt Conference announced Saturday the addition of Marshall University into the league after a unanimous vote by the Sun Belt CEOs. Marshall will join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023.

A press conference is set for Monday, November 1, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center in Huntington, West Virginia, at 9 a.m. CT/10 a.m. ET and will include Marshall President Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert, Marshall President-Elect Brad Smith, Marshall Interim Director of Athletics Jeff O’Malley and Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill. The event will be livestreamed.

“Today we welcome Marshall University to the Sun Belt Conference. This is another big day for our conference,” said Keith Gill, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner. “Marshall’s football tradition and passionate fans bring a strong presence to the Sun Belt. Their natural rivals are in our footprint and make our East Division even more competitive than it already was. I am grateful to Marshall President Dr. Jerome Gilbert, Chairman of the Marshall Board of Governors Patrick Farrell and Interim Athletics Director Jeff O’Malley for their leadership during this process and look forward to working closely with President-Elect Brad D. Smith.”

The addition of Marshall will bring the number of Sun Belt members to 15, with the Thundering Herd joining current members—App State, Little Rock, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, UTA, Texas State and Troy—and new additions Southern Miss and Old Dominion, which were welcomed to the Sun Belt Conference this week.

“Amid national realignment discussions, our presidents and chancellors have expressed confidence in the SBC leadership and our member configuration (especially with the recent additions of Southern Miss and Old Dominion),” said Dr. Kelly Damphousse, Chancellor at Arkansas State University and President of the SBC Board of Directors. “As I shared with MU leadership, the Sun Belt CEOs believe that Marshall University mirrors our conference’s athletics and academic missions, while also capitalizing on regionality goals. My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming President-Select Brad Smith and The Herd to the Sun Belt Conference!”

Marshall University, founded in 1837 and located in Huntington, West Virginia, supports a student population of nearly 13,000. Athletically, the program claims three NCAA national championships—two in FCS football in 1992 and 1996 and one in men’s soccer in 2020. The football program has appeared in 17 bowl games, including a 12-4 postseason record since moving to the FBS in 1997.

“Today is a time for a new beginning for Marshall Athletics. Conference USA has been good to us over the years, and we are grateful for that. But when conditions change and it is time to act, you have to look to the future,” said Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert. “The Sun Belt will be good for the future of Marshall Athletics, and I am excited that we are going in this new direction. Go Herd.”

“Marshall is well positioned for an exciting future in the Sun Belt Conference,” Marshall University President-Elect Brad D. Smith. “Our brand, our athletic programs and our incredible fans earned this opportunity. This is a strong move forward for our university, our athletes and our fans.”

The Thundering Herd sponsors 16 varsity sports. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf and soccer. Women’s sports include basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.

“We’re excited for Marshall University to begin a new era in the Sun Belt Conference,” said Marshall Interim Director of Athletics Jeff O’Malley. “During our comprehensive and thoughtful discussions over the past weeks and months, it became clear that the Sun Belt offered a perfect fit for our school and athletic department. There’s an energy in the league that meshes nostalgic rivalries with new opponents that will delight our fan base. Marshall was uniquely positioned in this round of realignment because of the number of options we had, which is a testament to our strong national brand, reputation and passionate fan base.”

The Sun Belt Conference was founded in 1976 and began sponsoring football in 2001. Over the course of the past five football seasons, the conference has posted an FBS-leading .692 winning percentage in bowl games, going 18-8 over the stretch.

The Sun Belt sponsors 17 NCAA sports and annually awards nearly $134 million in financial aid to more than 4,600 student-athletes. App State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy comprise the league’s 10 football members. Little Rock and UTA compete as Sun Belt members in sports other than football.

SUN BELT MEMBERSHIP

Joined Institution Location Enrollment
1976 South Alabama Mobile, Ala. 14,505
1991 Arkansas State Jonesboro, Ark. 13,772
1991 Little Rock Little Rock, Ark. 7,006
1991 Louisiana Lafayette, La. 14,020
2005 Troy Troy, Ala. 12,712
2006 ULM Monroe, La. 6,859
2013 Georgia State Atlanta, Ga. 54,000
2013 Texas State San Marcos, Texas 33,193
2013 UTA Arlington, Texas 35,064
2014 App State Boone, N.C. 20,641
2014 Georgia Southern Statesboro, Ga. 27,000
2016 Coastal Carolina Conway, S.C. 9,500