C-USA adds FAU, Middle Tennessee

Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State are leaving the Sun Belt Conference for Conference USA.

An announcement was made by the conference Thursday.

"Besides being tremendous institutions, this is a logical move for us," Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement. "These schools fit well within our strategic plan to be a major market, two-division conference that is student-athlete and fan friendly. We know they will make great contributions to our bright future."

FAU and Middle Tennessee will join Conference USA in July 2014. Conference USA added the schools to replace Tulane and East Carolina, which announced Tuesday they were joining the Big East.

The addition of FAU and Middle Tennessee will give Conference USA 14 league members in 2014.

League officials announced in May that Conference USA was adding five new schools in 2013: Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UT-San Antonio. Charlotte will begin participating in conference football in 2015. Old Dominion is joining C-USA in 2014.

In Middle Tennessee, C-USA is getting the largest public university in the state of Tennessee. The school is located just 30 miles southeast of the Nashville media market in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

"I've been told when the invitation was made that Conference USA has had their eyes on us for a number of years and a number of institutions have been very impressed by the progress of this university," Middle Tennessee president Sidney McPhee said.

Middle Tennessee jumped from Division I-AA in 1999 in football, and the Blue Raiders have played in three bowls since 2005.

The Blue Raiders received votes in The Associated Press men's basketball poll last season with coach Kermit Davis earning a five-year extension and finished with a school-record 27 wins. The women's basketball team has reached the NCAA tournament four straight years and 15 times overall.

Florida Atlantic caps a move from Division I-AA and puts the Owls in the league with rival FIU, which joins C-USA in 2013. FAU, with 28,000 students, opened a 29,419-seat football stadium on campus 13 months ago. "This is a momentous day in the history of Florida Atlantic University," Florida Atlantic athletic director Pat Chun said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Related Content