The Southeastern Conference is in the final stages of a deal that will partner the power football conference with the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Belk Bowl for six years.
According to a source with knowledge of the deal, the ACC, which has been a partner conference with the Charlotte bowl at Bank of America Stadium since its inception in 2002, will join the SEC in the Belk Bowl beginning in 2014.
The deal is expected to be finalized next week, and the depth of the SEC all but ensures a quality team visiting Charlotte each December.
For the past decade, the Belk Bowl has partnered with the ACC and Big East, which has become the American Athletic Conference.
The move will take effect in 2014, which is the first year of the new College Football Playoff system. Because the Chick-fil-A Bowl will be part of the six-bowl playoff rotation, and because the Gator Bowl and Music City Bowl share rights with the ACC and Big Ten, the Belk Bowl could be the only guaranteed annual ACC-SEC bowl matchup.
Will Webb, executive director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation that oversees the Belk Bowl, declined to comment specifically on the SEC, but he did say Belk and the CSF are hoping to make an announcement regarding the future of the bowl soon.
Belk may be the best title sponsor in the country, and they have a commitment to make this bowl game one of the best outside the College Football Playoff system starting in 2014, Webb said. We promise the people of Charlotte that this will be a significant bowl game and will be a player in the national scene.
After the BCS bowl, the Belk Bowl has been fourth in pecking order for the ACC. Its unclear how the College Football Playoff will affect that ranking, and its also unclear where the Belk Bowl would line up in the SECs order.
The SEC, winners of the past seven national titles, is the deepest football conference in the nation with the most devoted fan base, too. Nine teams from the conference went to bowls last year and seven finished in the BCS top 25.
Last year the SEC led all conferences with an attendance of 75,538 per game. The ACC was fifth with 49,910 per game.
The 2012 Belk Bowl was one of the most exciting bowl games last season, with Cincinnati topping Duke 48-34 in a game where 33 bowl records were broken. But the announced attendance was just more than 48,000 for a stadium that seats nearly 74,000.
Only three times (2002, 2004 and 2008) has the Charlotte bowl, formerly the Continental Tire Bowl and Meinke Car Care Bowl, had an attendance of 70,000 or more.