Sun Belt Conference On The Rise In Overall Strength

Aug. 24, 2000

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Western Kentucky University is a member of one of the nation's fastest rising leagues, according to the 1999-2000 interconference standings compiled by the Big 12 Conference. Among the 32 NCAA Division I leagues, the Sun Belt Conference finished 10th in men's sports and 12th in women's sports. The Southeastern Conference claimed the top spot in the men's competition, while the Pacific-10 Conference finished first in women's athletics.

Created in 1986-87, the interconference survey measures the placement of teams in NCAA championship events. Points were awarded on the basis of 20 points for a first-place NCAA finish by a team from the conference, 19 for second, and continuing through 20th place. For football, the post-bowls Associated Press poll was utilized. A total of 22 leagues had men's teams post a top-20 NCAA finish, while 23 conferences had women's squads place in the top 20 in an NCAA championship event.

On the men's side, the Sun Belt finished ahead of such leagues as the Mountain West, Mid-American, Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley Conferences. The SBC was fueled by a third-place finish from Louisiana-Lafayette at the 2000 College World Series. It marked the first-ever appearance by a Sun Belt team in the CWS. Also of note -- the SBC finished second among conferences which did not offer Division I-A football, trailing the Colonial Athletic Association by just one-half point in the standings. The Sun Belt will begin sponsoring Division I-A football in 2001.

Among women's sports, the Sun Belt placed higher than the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10 and Ohio Valley Conferences. Louisiana Tech had the top NCAA finish among SBC women's teams, reaching the Elite Eight at the 2000 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

"The results of the annual survey are indicative of what we have been saying all along," Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters said. "The Sun Belt Conference has a great product -- strong athletics programs with solid academics. We have to do a better job of letting people know what a great product we have."

--WKU--

1999-00 Men's Conference Points: 1. Southeastern, 401.375 points, 2. Pacific-10, 322.125, 3. Big 12, 310.5, 4. Big Ten, 301.0, 5. Atlantic Coast, 189.675, 6. Western Athletic, 115.0, 7. Big East, 94.25, 8. Conference USA, 34.125, 9. Colonial, 30.5, 10. SUN BELT, 30.0, 11. Mountain West, 26.625, 12. Mid-American, 24, 18. Missouri Valley, 10.25, 22. Atlantic 10, 0.625, NR. Ohio Valley, 0.0.

1999-00 Women's Conference Points: 1. Pacific-10, 575.5 points, 2. Southeastern, 405.125, 3. Big 12, 283.375, 4. Big Ten, 198.625, 5. Big East, 170.625, 6. Atlantic Coast, 160.375, 7. Mountain West, 88.625, 8. Western Athletic, 81.875, 9. Big West, 62.0, 10. West Coast, 56.625, 11. Conference USA, 53.675, 12. SUN BELT, 27.625, 17. Missouri Valley, 8.5, 19. Atlantic 10, 0.625, NR. Ohio Valley, 0.0.