Sun Belt Conference reintroduces men's soccer

[COLLEGE MEN] The shuffle of schools around college conferences has resulted in the addition of a men's soccer conference for the 2014 season. After an 18-year hiatus, the Sun Belt will reintroduce men's soccer, the first championship it ever held when the conference was launched in 1976.

Georgia State is the only current member to sponsor men's soccer, but Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will become Sun Belt schools in 2014 and independents Hartwick, Howard and NJIT will join as affiliate members. (Hartwick spent the last seven years in the Mid-American Conference.)

The teams will play a five-game regular-season schedule and all teams will advance to the playoffs. The Sun Belt will also have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It previously sponsored men's soccer for 20 years (1976-95).

"The reintroduction of men's soccer to the Sun Belt Conference means that we will be able to provide valuable opportunities for student-athletes and deliver them a first-class championship experience," said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson. "Our new affiliate members provide us with a full field of competitive teams and we welcome them to the Sun Belt Conference."

Both Howard and Hartwick are former national champions that have fallen on hard times. The Washington Post reported that Howard will name alumnus Philipp Gyau, the former U.S. international and father of U.S. U-23 Joe Gyau, as head coach, replacing Michael Lawrence, who was fired after a 1-17-0 record. Hartwick finished with a 5-9-4 record in 2013, its fourth straight losing season.
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