CBS Sports reporter Brent McMurphy is reporting that Texas State University and the University of Texas at Arlington are set to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, along with Georgia State. Both Texas St., and UTA were set to be members of the WAC in 2013, but that conference is now on life support.
The moves come as a preemptive strike to replace schools like Florida International and North Texas who are expected to be moving to Conference USA at the same time. It doesn't exactly mean FIU and UNT to Conference USA is set in stone, but one would think it makes all but official.
Over the last few days we've also heard that the UTSA, Utah State, and San Jose State will be leaving the WAC as well in 2013, meaning that Louisiana Tech heading to Conference USA becomes even more likely. The additions of UTSA, La Tech, FIU, and UNT will give Conference USA 12 members, and will allow it to retain its conference championship game in football.
For UTEP fans, the idea of sliding into the Mountain West Conference is becoming more and more bleak. The fact that C-USA would be at an even number of schools, and the next possible candidates for expansion (Charlotte, Old Dominion) won't have FBS football programs for another couple of years, means that it is highly unlikely UTEP would be given any kind of free pass to exit C-USA.
Previous reports of UTEP moving to the Mountain West were mostly sparked by the planned merger between C-USA and the MWC, but since the conferences stand to lose millions of dollars in revenue from exit fees and postseason play by dissolving, any merger in the near future is highly unlikely. Thus, UTEP would be like any other school exiting the conference, and would be subject to a $6 million exit fee.
Again, at this point, nothing is set in stone. The reports that have been released have all named anonymous sources, and the conferences themselves have not released any statement on expansion plans. But, with the ball starting to roll, even without word from the conferences, one would expect them to break the silence soon. More to come on this as it becomes available.