Conference USA has announced the addition of West Virginia University as an affiliate member for the sport of men’s soccer. The Mountaineers will begin play in C-USA for the fall 2022 season.
“Conference USA will be the new home for our men’s soccer program in 2022, and I think it’s a great and positive move for Dan Stratford as he builds our program,” said West Virginia Director of Athletics Shane Lyons. “Nine years ago, our men’s soccer program needed a new home and the Mid-American Conference served us well. We look forward to competing in the MAC for one more year and then turning our attention to a new challenge. I want to thank Commissioner Judy MacLeod and the conference athletic directors for the invitation and for welcoming West Virginia men’s soccer into C-USA.”
“We’re very excited by the news and our conference realignment for the fall of 2022,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “I must thank Shane Lyons, Simon Dover and the rest of our administration for their help, support, and foresight in our program’s transition. Conference USA has quickly become a men’s soccer powerhouse, with so many reputable schools that have a strong tradition. Our program’s ambition is to compete with the very best in the country, and we believe that Conference USA provides us the platform to do that. I also want to thank the Mid-American Conference for providing WVU with a great home. I was part of the staff when we entered the MAC, and it has continued to be a tough league with a formidable RPI standing year after year. I have been particularly appreciative of my fellow coaches within the MAC, along with Jeff Bacon, who has done an incredible job navigating a very difficult campaign with the pandemic.”
“First and foremost, I want to thank the MAC for being an excellent place to call home for the past decade,” WVU Senior Associate Athletics Director/Business Operations, CFO Simon Dover said. “I am extremely excited about the trajectory of our men’s soccer program in the coming years. With the hiring of Coach Stratford in January 2020, and a bright future ahead, I’m greatly looking forward to seeing this next step in Conference USA, headed by a spirited leader with lots of optimism.”
West Virginia was 6-3-1 in the spring 2021 season, including 4-3-1 in Mid-American Conference play. The Mountaineers finished No. 12 in overall RPI, conceded only six goals and posted six shutouts during the season. WVU earned a pair of victories over future C-USA opponents with a 3-0 shutout at Charlotte and a 1-0 shutout of Marshall in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers men’s soccer program has won five conference tournament championships and two conference regular-season titles. West Virginia has made 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament all-time with WVU’s last appearance in 2019 when the squad won the MAC Tournament to secure an automatic bid. Head coach Dan Stratford, a WVU alum and former assistant coach, completed his first season at West Virginia after leading the University of Charleston to a pair of NCAA Division II national championships in 2017 and 2019.
West Virginia has had 11 MLS SuperDraft selections, 28 All-America honors, seven conference players of the year, seven CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, three NSCAA Scholar All-Americans and 10 NSCAA/USC Scholar All-Region student-athletes.
“As we continue to build upon this year’s national championship in men’s soccer and a very deep and talented lineup of teams, we are pleased to welcome another traditionally strong program in West Virginia to enhance one of our conference’s most successful sports,” said C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod.
The addition of West Virginia in 2022 will bring Conference USA to 10 men’s soccer members with Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Old Dominion and UAB and affiliate members Coastal Carolina (starting in fall 2021), Kentucky and South Carolina.
Conference USA has produced multiple NCAA Tournament teams in each of the last 11 seasons, including three squads in 2020 (spring 2021 season) — Charlotte, Kentucky and Marshall.