JONESBORO — The Sun Belt Conference announced Tuesday that it will keep its eight-game league football schedule and allow its members to play up to four nonconference games this season.
That is good news for Arkansas State University, which kicks off this year’s football season Sept. 5 in Tennessee, where they’ll face the University of Memphis Tigers in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
“As of today, our schedule is unchanged, and we’ll begin Sept. 5 at Memphis,” said Jerry Scott, director of A-State Athletics Media Relations. “Then we’ll be at home on Sept. 26 hosting Tulsa.”
The Sun Belt is also allowing members to schedule nonconference games as early as Aug. 29. At the moment, A-State does not have a game scheduled for that weekend, Scott said.
“What the conference has said is that members could schedule a game for Week Zero on Aug. 29,” Scott said Tuesday. “We currently don’t have a game scheduled for Aug. 29, but it is a possibility. The conference decision gives us some flexibility.”
The conference’s 10 members had 12 games scheduled against Power Five conference opponents, but with those leagues eliminating almost all of their nonconference games, Sun Belt schools have lots of holes in their schedules.
The Sun Belt will host a football championship game on Dec. 5 between the East Division and West Division champions. If necessary, the date of the championship game may be adjusted.
“After extensive discussions and careful deliberation among the Sun Belt Conference presidents and chancellors, athletics directors, SBC COVID-19 Advisory Panel, medical advisors, and other governance groups, the Sun Belt Conference announced today that its football season will begin over Labor Day weekend,” the release stated.
Texas State already has announced it has moved its home game against SMU in San Marcos, Texas, to Aug. 29.
Sun Belt member institutions have focused since June on a safe return to athletic activities.
“We believe this timetable will allow for the healthy integration of the entire campus community for each Sun Belt member,” the release stated.
Officials will continue to review data to ensure a safe return to activities and competition, according to the release.
Officials will review data from seven states and 12 counties and include, among other things, infection rates, hospitalization rates, local health directives, advancements in COVID-19 testing and campus, department and team health trends.