Could this mean the Owls will soon leave the Atlantic Sun for the Southern Conference?
“That’s up to the Southern Conference,” Kennesaw State athletic director Vaughn Williams said Tuesday, as the university introduced Brian Bohannon as its first football coach. “It would give us a viable option for us to play football somewhere.”
The Associated Press reported Monday that Georgia Southern and Appalachian State were set to announce that they would make the move to the Sun Belt Conference for the 2014-15 school year.
While Georgia Southern has not confirmed any move, the university will be holding a news conference in Statesboro today “to discuss the future of the Eagles’ athletic programs.”
The Georgia Southern and Appalachian State football programs — longtime rivals that have won a combined nine national titles in the Football Championship Subdivision — would begin play in the Sun Belt and complete the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2015.
Kennesaw State, meanwhile is set to begin play in the FCS — formerly Division I-AA — in 2015.
Ever since it appeared that Kennesaw State would be starting a football program, Williams has had informal talks with conferences that may be viable options for the university to join — including the SoCon, Ohio Valley and Big South — but he said that the SoCon at no time has given him the idea an invitation may be pending.
“We’ve never had an indicator — positive or negative — and rightfully so,” Williams said. “It wasn’t the proper time. But I would hope that the metro-Atlanta location would be favorable.”
The SoCon would be a familiar place to Bohannon, who was on Paul Johnson’s staff at Georgia Southern when it won I-AA championships in 1999 and 2000. He said playing in the SoCon would be a definite possibility, but not the only one.
“We will talk about playing in the best (conference) for KSU football,” Bohannon said. “The Southern Conference has changed a lot even since I was there, and with losing Southern and App State, two mainstays …
“I have a gut feeling, before it’s over, that there will be some conferences that come to us.”
Williams said that while there’s no deadline for gaining a conference affiliation, the work on finding the right one is about to start. University officials want to have the Owls’ inaugural schedule outlined by this summer, and the two seem to go hand in hand.
“We will have to do what’s right for KSU football,” Williams said, “but the sooner the better.”