TROY, Ala., May 23 (UPI) -- Troy State, currently a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference in all sports but football, Friday accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference.
The Trojans will become a full member of the Sun Belt in the fall of 2005, with the football program beginning play a year earlier. The Sun Belt extended the Trojans an invitation during its spring meeting.
According to Atlantic Sun Conference guidelines, a university seeking to withdraw its membership must give a two-year notice by June 1. Troy State will officially inform the Atlantic Sun within the next week of its intent to leave. The Trojans had been a member of the A-Sun since 1997.
"Our admission to the Sun Belt is another positive step for the Trojans as we work hard to solidify our status as a Division I program," said Troy State Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins.
With Idaho and Utah State also set to become members of the Sun Belt, the conference will have eight full-time members who play football beginning in 2005, and nine total with football-only member Louisiana-Monroe.
Troy State had been an independent in football.
The Trojans have put together an ambitious football schedule this season, with road games against Kansas State, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
"By gaining membership in the Sun Belt Conference, I believe it fully enhances our position as a full I-A football institution," said Troy State Athletic Director Johnny Williams. "By having conference affiliation, it will enhance our ability to meet and maintain our I-A certification."