Georgia State: Panthers Will Leave CAA for Sun Belt

John SmithContributor IIIApril 8, 2012

The offseason has only started, but the CAA and its teams are already hard at work.

As Drexel is renovating the DAC, while Towson is building the new Tiger Arena and Georgia State plans to leave the Colonial Athletic Association, CBS Sports has reported that the GSU Panthers will leave for the Sun Belt Conference starting in 2013.

The move is no surprise to CAA fans, as the Panthers had two legitimate reasons to leave. The CAA is voting to raise the league's exit fee from $250,000 to as much as $1 million, so Georgia State was basically forced to make up its mind. Secondly, GSU wants to move to Division I FBS football, where the Sun Belt plays.

Georgia State's football program started in 2010, and has yet to compete in the CAA. The plan was to join the CAA this upcoming season, and play non-conference football for 2010 and 2011. Those two years have been rough, going 9-13 against bottom-tier schools. However, starting a football program is not easy. The Panthers have now gotten three recruiting classes, and are poised for the 2012 CAA football season.

The move would take place in 2013, so all of GSU's fall sports would have one final season in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The move for football will be obviously difficult, as the Sun Belt has experienced programs competing against the nation's best. As basketball is concerned, I believe the move will turn out well.

The team has appeared in the NCAA Tournament two times, most recently in 2011.

In 2011-12, the Panthers went 22-12 overall (18-9 in regular season), and 11-7 in CAA regular season play. Georgia State has always been the average above-average team.

GSU has a brief history with the Sun Belt Conference, being a member for five seasons. They then moved on to the Atlantic Sun, before joining the CAA in 2005.

This is just another move for the Panthers, as they will compete with top-tier schools in the Sun Belt Conference beginning next year.

The announcement is slated for Monday at 2 p.m. ET at the Georgia Dome where the football team competes.

A replacement will most likely be from the Southern Conference. The College of Charleston could be a good replacement.