Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson to retire in June after seven-year run

Sun Belt Conference

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson will retire following the expiration of his contract in June 2019, the conference announced Thursday. 

"I have labored over this decision for several months, but I know that now is the right time to step aside from the Sun Belt and conclude my career as a commissioner and in intercollegiate athletics," Benson said in a statement. "I am very proud of what the Sun Belt has been able to accomplish since starting here in 2012. I greatly appreciate the leadership that the Presidents, Chancellors and Athletics Directors have provided both myself and the Sun Belt staff. They give us the needed support to drive the Conference's existing members and new members to the next level."

The 67-year-old Benson has been the commissioner of the Sun Belt since 2012. He took over the conference in the midst of a tumultuous time in college football, as conference realignment was changing the landscape of the sport on a daily basis. The Sun Belt was a victim of the chain reaction that saw so many Group of Five teams moving "up" to new conferences, as Conference USA plucked schools like FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and North Texas from the conference. Benson helped ease the transition by replacing those schools with Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Coastal Carolina and Texas State. The conference also decided to move on from Idaho and New Mexico State during Benson's tenure.

"Karl has dedicated himself to pushing the Sun Belt to the strongest possible place within intercollegiate athletics," Sun Belt and Georgia State President Dr. Mark P. Becker said. "The Conference has come a long way over the past six years due to his leadership and the strong team that he has built at the Conference office. Thanks to Karl, the conference is thriving and positioned for even greater success. The Sun Belt membership is thankful for the transformational leadership that he has provided."

The Sun Belt was the third conference that Benson took the reins of during his career, as he served as the commissioner of the MAC from 1990 to 1994 and the WAC from 1994 through 2012 when he left to take over the Sun Belt.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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