cloudy
Friday May 27th, 2016 8:38AM

SoCon commissioner happy with league stability

By The Associated Press
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- It's been a restless few years for Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino. These days, the longtime league leader can finally get some sleep.<br /> <br /> The SoCon has lost five members over the last two years as a result of conference realignment, including Football Championship Subdivision titlists Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.<br /> <br /> But with the additions of East Tennessee, Mercer and VMI for this academic year, Iamarino believes the era of rampant change is done.<br /> <br /> Iamarino said Wednesday the stability will allow the league to concentrate "on some progressive things as opposed to kind of trying to defend the flank and react to comments and rumors that are out there.<br /> <br /> "You never know in this business, but I do believe these 10 (schools) are committed to each other and to the league."<br /> <br /> As evidence, Iamarino said presidents of league schools voted unanimously to increase the exit fee they'd pay upon moving with at least a year's notice to $1 million from $300,000. The fee for moving inside of a year was upped to $1.25 million.<br /> <br /> "That's a good sign that they were willing to tax themselves if somebody was thinking about leaving," he said.<br /> <br /> Along with a stable membership comes a perception the league won't be as strong without the Mountaineers and Eagles, who had won or shared 18 conference championships the previous 23 seasons.<br /> <br /> Neither, though, were among the three schools (Furman, Chattanooga, Samford) who shared the crown last year.<br /> <br /> "Probably people who follow FCS football will think we'll be down for a while, but I don't believe it'll be as long as they think," Iamarino said.<br /> <br /> The commissioner is confident the conference would have multiple bids to the FCS' 24-team playoffs this year.<br /> <br /> "We're not a one-bid league," Iamarino said.<br /> <br /> Wofford coach Mike Ayers said the rest of the league, knowing Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, saw an opportunity to chase a top spot and it ramped up their programs.<br /> <br /> The Terriers had gone to the FCS playoffs five times in six seasons between 2007 and 2012 and are looking to get back there after a year away.<br /> <br /> "I can't say we believe we're in the drivers' seat," he said. "There are too many good teams coming back."<br /> <br /> Chattanooga was the preseason pick by league coaches and media to win this year's crown with Furman and Sanford right behind.<br /> <br /> Mercer and VMI, the two newcomers competing this fall, tied for last in the coaches' vote and were seventh and eighth in media selections.<br /> <br /> Mercer coach Bobby Lamb enjoyed regular SoCon success for nearly three decades as a player, assistant and head coach at Furman and understands what it will take bring the Bears to that level.<br /> <br /> The program, playing just its second season of football, has the backing of the community (Lamb said Mercer averaged 9,500 fans a game) and school administration. The coach said they will increase scholarships to 50 next year before reaching the FCS limit of 63 in 2016.<br /> <br /> Mercer restores the league's footprint in Georgia after Georgia Southern left for the Sun Belt Conference.<br /> <br /> Lamb's also glad his school found a football home in a stable setting.<br /> <br /> "I think all the moving parts have stopped for a while," he said. "I think these institutions are committed to the Southern Conference. Obviously, you hear rumors all the time, but I really think it's going to be here for a while."<br /> <br /> VMI had left the Southern Conference for the Big South after the 2002 season, in part because the military college struggled to compete in the powerhouse FCS league.<br /> <br /> This time around, Keydets coach Sparky Woods believes the program is on sounder footing to compete.<br /> <br /> "I guess the only question we have is about the head coach, so we'll see," Woods, the former South Carolina head coach, said with a smile.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 1 year ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Jackets, Mississippi St. clash in Orange Bowl
No. 10 Georgia Tech has the nation's second-ranked rushing offense. No. 8 Mississippi State has held seven of its 12 opponents under 125 yards on the ground.
5:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Ole Miss defense braces for TCU offense in Peach Bowl
Mississippi and TCU were part of the playoffs story in 2014. Each team was part of the chase. Each team fell short of the coveted semifinals.
5:01PM ( 1 year ago )
Kiffin shining again after season of redemption
Lane Kiffin was modest in his goals and complimentary about the team he'll be facing in the Sugar Bowl. He went on and on about how much he's learned from Nick Saban, while insisting it's no big deal when his boss yells at him. Very un-Kiffin-like, you might say.
11:02PM ( 1 year ago )
College Sports
Basketball: Area coaches see a 'positive' change to GHSA finals move
The response amongst northeast Georgia's coaches was overwhelmingly positive following the Georgia High School Association's announcement on Thursday that it will no longer hold its annual basketball championship games in the Macon Coliseum.
7:49PM ( 11 hours from now )
VIDEO: Historic postseason brought countless top plays
This year provided perhaps the most successful overall postseason campaign in the history of the sport in this area. And we have compiled some of the best highlights involved in that campaign here...
5:05PM ( 8 hours from now )
GHSA moves basketball championships away from Macon
The Georgia High School Association announced on Thursday that it will no longer hold its annual basketball championship games in the Macon Coliseum and is moving the contests to the University of Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum and Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion.
9:00AM ( 21 minutes from now )
Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson on verge of first wins
NASCAR fans got a glimpse of the future recently as rising stars Kyle Larson, 23, and Chase Elliott, 20, battled for victory in the waning stages of consecutive races.
By NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Braves outfielder Hector Olivera suspended through Aug. 1
The Atlanta Braves' dismal season took another turn for the worse Thursday when outfielder Hector Olivera was suspended through Aug. 1 for his arrest on domestic violence charges.
By The Associated Press
11:26PM ( 9 hours ago )