Conference USA announced today that they are adding five schools for the 2013 season. Joining C-USA are Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UTSA.
Florida International and North Texas are moving from the Sun Belt while Louisiana Tech and UTSA are coming from the WAC. Charlotte, which begins their football program in 2013, will move up from the Football Championship Subdivision.
“We are excited about adding these new members as part of our bold strategy that focuses on growing institutions in large media markets,” Banowsky said. “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.”
Conference USA also announced today that they will “…continue to discuss a future affiliation that could begin as early as 2013” with the Mountain West Conference. The two entities had been planning to merge, but will now explore a partnership that shares resources.
Listed below details on the five new members of Conference USA:
The Charlotte 49ers (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) are set to start their football program in 2013 as an FCS Independent. They will begin C-USA football competition in 2015 after completion of the mandatory two seasons at the FCS level. All other sports will join C-USA in 2013.
“The invitation to join Conference USA is momentous in what it can do for our university,” Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois said. “As stewards of this university, it is incumbent upon us to provide the best leadership for today and the best promise for tomorrow. We have yet to take a snap on McColl-Richardson field, yet to play our first game, yet to have even our first practice – but because of who we are, because of what we’ve done, and because of the great community we live in – we have the unique opportunity to become one of the first programs in history to go from no football to FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) football in the minimum time allowed by NCAA regulations.”
The Golden Panthers started their football program in 2002 and joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2005. FIU was recognized as Sun Belt Co-Champions in 2010.
“This move to Conference USA is about providing greater opportunity for our student-athletes and our fans,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “A successful, visible athletics program is an integral part of building tradition and affinity in a young university such as ours. This is part of that journey. I want to thank Dr. Scott Cowen and the rest of the Conference USA CEOs for extending the invitation. I would also like to thank Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson, former commissioner Wright Waters and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference for being terrific partners the past 14 years.”
The Bulldogs have been a member of the WAC since 2001. Last season, Tech won the WAC Championship and played in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl where they fell to TCU 31-24.
“This is the dawn of a new era for Louisiana Tech University and a goal we have worked very hard over the past several years to achieve,” President Dan Reneau said. “I want to publically acknowledge the efforts of Bruce Van De Velde and his team as well as dedicated alums such as Terry Bradshaw and the Davison family, who were instrumental in helping tell our story and promote our vision for the future of Louisiana Tech Athletics.
“Above all, I want to thank the Tech Nation for their loyal support and commitment to the athletics program. You are the spirit of Louisiana Tech and an inspiration to our coaches and student-athletes.”
The Mean Green have been a member of the Sun Belt Conference since 2001. They were SBC Co-Champions in 2001 and Champions in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
“This is validation that the progress we have made in our athletic programs in conjunction with our university’s academic reputation has made us a suitable fit for the high standards of Conference USA,” Director of Athletics Rick Villarreal said. “Conference USA provides a great partnership with several schools in our geographic proximity and will help all of us create outstanding regional rivalries. It is a tremendous opportunity for North Texas athletics.”
UTSA (The University of Texas at San Antonio) played their first football season in 2011 as an FCS Independent. For the 2012 season, the Roadrunners will be a member of the WAC.
“Today is another outstanding day to be a Roadrunner,” said president President Dr. Ricardo Romo. “We are very excited about our new partnership with Conference USA. It is a great fit for us, and it is a significant step forward for the University and the entire city of San Antonio.”
“This is yet another historic day for UTSA,” Athletics Director Lynn Hickey said. “Today’s invitation is a realization of a lot of hard work by so many different people, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the city and its community leaders. This truly was a collaborative effort. It’s another great moment for the city of San Antonio, our University and the athletics department. Everyone truly is excited to be moving to Conference USA.”