Charlotte and Old Dominion jump in
HUNTINGTON -- Conference USA will have new members Old Dominion and Charlotte competing in all sports except football in 2013-14, a league official confirmed Tuesday.
Old Dominion and Charlotte will begin playing C-USA football in the 2014 and 2015 seasons respectively. The ODU Monarchs are already competing this spring in C-USA golf, tennis and rowing.
Also, C-USA confirmed membership agreements with Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic are effective July 1, 2013, commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a news release.
"We look forward to supporting a 16-member league, with 14 football teams competing for Conference USA in 2013," Banowsky said.
Current C-USA members Marshall, East Carolina, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB and UTEP will be joined for the 2013 football season by MTSU, FAU, Louisiana Tech, Florida International, North Texas and UT-San Antonio.
East Carolina and Tulane are scheduled to leave for the Big East Conference in 2014.
MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and FAU from Boca Raton, Fla., are leaving the Sun Belt Conference one year earlier than anticipated.
The Sun Belt Conference had raised its exit fee to $1 million last May, but both schools will pay $700,000, a report by The Associated Press said. Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said the league agreed to a reduced exit fee to help their athletic directors finish setting their 2013 football schedules.
"It was felt that it was in the best interest of the university, our student-athletes and supporters to accelerate our move to C-USA," MTSU president Sidney A. McPhee said in a statement.
"C-USA's television partnerships, increased bowl tie-ins and larger national footprint will provide better and stronger platforms for our athletics program and our university."
FAU president Mary Jane Saunders said in a statement the school will benefit as a C-USA member from increased national exposure and a wide range of opportunities such as television partnerships and bowl game tie-ins.