UCF Knights Vice President and Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir told Jeff Sharon and Eric Lopez on this week’s Black & Gold Banneret Podcast that the school’s men’s soccer program expects to join the Sun Belt Conference when the rest of the school’s programs depart The American for the Big 12.
Listen to the clip below:
“We’re going to be in the Sun Belt,” Mohajir said when asked for an update on where the program would go. “It’s not done...but we’re going to be going in with some other really good teams in that league...It’s gonna be great.”
The move is still being finalized.
UCF is currently in The American for all sports and is expected to remain so until they leave for the Big 12.
But the Big 12 does not sponsor Men’s Soccer, so that program was in the process of casting about for the best possible home.
Remaining in The American was certainly a possibility, and UCF will compete there for the time being along with four new additions to the conference for the upcoming 2022 season announced last week: UAB, FAU, FIU and Charlotte.
However, the Sun Belt announced in April it was adding Men’s Soccer as a sport after a one-season hiatus. Nine schools were announced: Current members Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State, new full members James Madison, Marshall, and Old Dominion, and affiliate members Kentucky, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Those last three schools are the only P5 conference Men’s Soccer programs without conference homes identical to the rest of their institutions’ sports. The SEC doesn’t sponsor men’s soccer.
UCF would be the fourth P5 institution to play men’s soccer in the Sun Belt when it joins.
The new Sun Belt Conference for Men’s Soccer would look like this:
Sun Belt Conference — Men’s Soccer
|2021 Final RPI
|2021 Final RPI
Fellow new Sun Belt entrant Marshall won the NCAA College Cup in Spring 2021, defeating Indiana in overtime:
Several reports have stated UCF is aiming to reach a buyout agreement with The American to leave for the Big 12 along with Cincinnati and Houston by July 1, 2023, although that has not yet been finalized.
UCF won three straight AAC regular-season championships from 2018-2020 under head coach Scott Calabrese, and won the conference tournament in 2020. They have not finished lower than second in The American since 2016, and have been to the NCAA College Cup Tournament the last four years.
UCF was previously a member of the Sun Belt Conference for one year, in 1991-92, before joining the Atlantic Sun Conference (then called the TAAC) in all sports. The Sun Belt did not sponsor football until 2001.
Subscribe to our podcast to hear the entire interview with Terry Mohajir, as well as new women’s basketball head coach Sytia Messer in our next episode.