Conference USA Expands Adding Five Members
IRVING, Texas - Conference USA has officially expanded, adding five new schools by 2013.
The conference announced the addition of new member schools Friday morning in the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), Florida International University, Louisiana Tech University, University of North Texas and University of Texas at San Antonio who have all finalized comprehensive membership agreements with Conference USA.
"We are excited about adding these new members as part of our bold strategy that focuses on growing institutions in large media markets," said Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky. "There is a tremendous upside here. This is an opportunity for us to add a mixture of established and emerging programs. We also remain committed to divisional scheduling models that are student-athlete and fan-friendly. The more we analyzed it, the more it made sense."
The new additions will bring the conference total to 13 by July 2013.
The conference says divisions will be set in the near future and that the conference intends to continue hosting its football championship game.
"The Presidents and Chancellors of Conference USA universities are pleased to welcome these five distinguished institutions to C-USA," said Dr. Scott Cowen, Tulane University president and Chair of Conference USA's Board of Directors." Conference USA has always operated in a way that reflects the values of higher education and works very hard to balance the athletics and academic interests of its student-athletes at the highest level. These institutions clearly share those values."
Each new member will join the league in all sports for 2013, Charlotte will begin conference participation in football in 2015.
"There's no doubt that the addition of these five Universities helps the stability of Conference USA and gives our league great potential," said University of Tulsa Athletic Director Ross Parmley. "C-USA has added a combination of established and emerging programs. Four of the five schools bring a market size ranked among the top-36 in the country and totaling over 2 million more TV households than the league held this past year."
Since November 2011, Conference USA has lost Houston, Memphis, SMU and Central Florida who announced they had accepted invitations to compete in the Big East.
"We commend Conference USA and the League's Board of Directors for the vision they've shown in this ever-changing collegiate environment. The possibilities of this league 3-4 years down the road is tremendously exciting," said Parmley.
Conference USA and the Mountain West will continue to discuss a future affiliation that could begin as early as 2013. Both Conferences agreed that adding membership at this time was important and have carefully coordinated new membership plans. Additional expansion remains a possibility.
"The discussions with the Mountain West are ongoing," Banowsky added. "What form the relationship will take is still to be determined, but both remain committed to working together."
"For Tulsa, this provides us even more stability within a league that its' member schools possess great potential for substantial future growth. In addition, we remain confident with the league's continuing discussions about a future affiliation with the Mountain West Conference," added Parmley.
The newest members are each holding press conferences Friday to announce their move to Conference-USA.
Already Existing Members of Conference USA Include:
University of Tulsa
East Carolina University
University of Southern Mississippi
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).