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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) — On Tuesday, the Sun Belt Conference announced the addition of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) into the league after a unanimous vote of the Sun Belt CEOs. Southern Miss is expected to become a member no later than July 1, 2023.

“This is a big day for our conference. We are thrilled to welcome The University of Southern Mississippi to the Sun Belt. Southern Miss brings a host of strengths to our conference. They are competitive across all of their sports, have a strong brand and are supported by a great fan base. The electric atmosphere surrounding their games is a tradition we are proud to now be a part of,” said Keith Gill, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner. “I am grateful to President Dr. Rodney D. Bennett and Athletics Director Jeremy McClain for their leadership during this process. I’d also like to thank the CEOs and athletic directors of our current member institutions for their efforts as we continue our discussions around adding new members.”

The addition of Southern Miss will bring the number of Sun Belt members to 13. Current members include App State, Little Rock, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, UTA, Texas State and Troy. 
“Membership in the Sun Belt Conference is an exciting opportunity for The University of Southern Mississippi, for our student-athletes, for our alumni and fans, and for the University’s host communities,” said USM President Rodney D. Bennett. “This move will allow Southern Miss student-athletes to compete in what is fast-becoming the best Group of Five conference in the country and will provide greater visibility for the University’s championship athletics programs.”