College of Coastal Georgia's athletic programs could be in a new conference after the 2016-17 academic year.
The college announced Friday that it has informed the Southern States Athletic Conference of its intention to withdraw from the conference and apply for admission into The Sun Conference. Both conferences are a part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
"We are making this decision based on our belief that this is in the best interest of the college and the best interest of our student-athletes going forward," said College of Coastal Georgia president Greg Aloia in a release by the school.
Among the reasons cited for the change in the release is reduced travel. The Southern States Athletic Conference spans Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana while the The Sun Conference is comprised of teams from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
The reduced travel would allow student-athletes to spend more time on campus, miss fewer classes and save the athletic department money by reducing travel expenses.
Coastal teams are not strangers to The Sun Conference. Mariner squads have competed against many TSC members since joining the NAIA in 2011. Coastal's volleyball team began play in a tournament at TSC member St. Thomas University on Friday.
Coastal, which has been a part of the SSAC since 2012, has won three conference championships, placed several athletes on all-conference teams and also has had coaches recognized by the conference.
"The Southern States Athletic Conference has been an excellent home for Coastal Georgia athletics," said Coastal athletic director William Carlton. "We have built many strong relationships with SSAC members that we hope will continue into the future. The conditions leading to this decision are the result of unavoidable geographic factors that caused increasingly difficult challenges to our student-athletes' academic success and the department's financial resources. This was not an easy decision, but came only after careful and detailed analysis, consultation with our diverse constituent groups and only after the approval of the USG Board of Regents."
Coastal currently has eight varsity sports: volleyball, softball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, and men's and women's golf.
The Sun Conference includes Thomas University (Ga.), Savannah College of Art and Design, Ave Maria University (Fla.), Florida Memorial University (Fla.), Johnson and Wales University (Fla.), Keiser University (Fla.), Southeastern University (Fla.), St. Thomas University (Fla.), Warner University (Fla.), Webber International University (Fla.) and University of South Carolina Beaufort.
A decision from The Sun Conference on Coastal's application should occur later this year.