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Conference USA athletic teams, including East Carolina University, will compete against five newly added universities in 2013. C-USA officials announced the expansion to 13 members on Friday, May 4. (Photo by Jay Clark)

NEW RIVALS
Conference USA adds five members


May 4, 2011

By Mary Schulken
Executive Director of Communication, Public Affairs & Marketing


ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said an expansion of Conference USA announced May 4 offers the potential for growth and competitive excellence and reflects a continued emphasis by the conference on academic success for student-athletes.

“Conference USA is aggressively improving its membership, and East Carolina University is especially appreciative of the strong TV markets that are being added and the commitment of the conference to academic success of the student athlete,” said Ballard.


“ECU expects to compete for championships in the new Conference USA,” said Ballard.


Commissioner Britton Banowsky, Conference USA commissioner, announced today that five universities representing a mixture of established and emerging sports programs have finalized comprehensive membership agreements with Conference USA.


The new members include the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Florida International University, Louisiana Tech University, University of North Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio.


The conference will be at 13 members with these five new schools and will continue to consider expansion in the short term.  Each new member will join the league in all sports for 2013. Charlotte will begin conference play in football in 2015.


Divisions will be set up in the near future and the conference intends to continue hosting its Football Championship game.


“Conference USA’s leadership team is to be congratulated for a bold expansion plan that puts the interests of our student-athletes and the fans who support our programs ahead of all other concerns and agendas,” said Terry Holland, ECU’s athletic director. “Conference USA will continue to reap dividends from these decisions well into the next few decades.”


Conference USA and Mountain West also will continue to talk about a future affiliation that could begin as early as 2013, Banowsky said in a Conference USA press release. Both conferences agreed that adding membership at this time was important and have carefully coordinated new membership plans.


Conference USA said the new institutions were selected based on a variety of factors, including athletic competitiveness, market, academic fit and geography.


The new members have a combined enrollment of more than 150,000 and an estimated 650,000 living alumni. The metro area population of these schools is nearly 18 million.


The expansions adds more than 2 million TV households to Conference USA’s demographic profile, maintaining exposure in the Dallas-Fort Worth market while adding top 40 markets such as Charlotte, Miami and San Antonio.


The expansion is expected to reduce travel for most institutions, according to Conference USA.


“We remain committed to divisional scheduling models that are student-athlete and fan friendly,” said Banowsky.


Existing Conference USA members include ECU, Marshall University, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, Tulane University, The University of Tulsa, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).



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