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The Sun Belt Conference was founded on August 4, 1976 with New Orleans, South Alabama, Georgia State, Jacksonville, UNC Charlotte and South Florida. Over the next ten years the conference would add Western Kentucky, Old Dominion, Alabama-Birmingham (UAB), and Virginia Commonwealth.
New Orleans was forced out of the league in 1980 due to its small on-campus gymnasium that the Conference did not deem suitable for Conference competition. UNO competed as an independent before joining the newly-formed American South Conference in 1987.
After the 1990-91 basketball season, all members of the Sun Belt except Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Jacksonville, and incoming member Arkansas-Little Rock departed for other conferences.
The Sun Belt then merged with the American South Conference, made up of Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette), Texas-Pan American, New Orleans, Lamar, and Central Florida.
UCF left the league following the 1991-92 academic year.
Lamar, Texas-Pan American and Jacksonville departed at the end of the 1997-98 academic year.
Florida International (FIU) joined in 1998, and Denver was added in 1999.
Louisiana Tech departed after the 2000-01 academic year.
The conference did not sponsor football until 2001, when the league added former Big West Conference members New Mexico State and North Texas and then-independent Middle Tennessee State as full members and added independent Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) and Big West member Idaho as "football only" members.
Another Big West school, Utah State, was added as a "football only" member in 2003, then departed in 2005 with Idaho and New Mexico State for the WAC.
In 2004, Troy became a "football only" member until 2005 when they joined the conference in all sports.
In 2006, Louisiana-Monroe joined the conference as a member in all sports when it left the Southland Conference. Florida Atlantic joined the conference in all sports.
On November 11, 2009, New Orleans announced they were investigating a move from Division I to the NCAA's Division III. In order to maintain athletic scholarships, UNO instead opted for entry into Division II.
On April 20, 2011, UNO officially received transition approval from NCAA Division II Membership Committee.
Florida Atlantic joined the league as a member in all sports on July 1, 2005.
Western Kentucky joined the Sun Belt Conference for football in 2009 after its Board of Regents voted to upgrade the school's football program to Division I FBS.
On April 9, 2012, Georgia State, one of the founding members of the Sun Belt Conference, announced that it would be returning to the conference as a full member in 2013. As part of the move, the football program will begin a transition from FCS to FBS in the 2012 season; it will play a full Sun Belt schedule as a "transitional" FBS member in 2013, and become a full FBS member, with bowl eligibility, in 2014.
On May 2, 2012, Texas State announced it would leave the WAC after just one year and join the Sun Belt in July 2013 to begin play for the 2013-14 academic year. At the press conference to announce Texas State's addition, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson also hinted that more changes could be on the way for the conference.
On May 25, 2012, the conference announced that the Texas-Arlington had accepted an invitation to join the conference and would become a full member by 2013.
Standings for the 2021 and 2020 seasons
| ||in 2021||in 2020||Inaugural Game|
All records are ON FIELD records, including Bowl Games, Classics, Forfeits, Playoffs and/or Vacated games.
Inaugural Game is based on dates. If the indicated "Inaugural Game" is incorrect, it's because the date for that game is not set (as in we do not have this information).
Past and Present Sun Belt History
|New Mexico State||2001||2004|
|New Mexico State||2014||2017|