2010–13 Conference USA realignment
The 2010–13 Conference USA realignment refers to Conference USA (C-USA) dealing with several proposed and actual conference expansion and reduction plans among various NCAA conferences and institutions from 2010 to 2013.
On October 14, 2011 Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference announced they would enter into a football-only alliance, forming a 22-team league. The league would span 15 states and 5 time zones.
However, following further defections from both conferences, the two leagues decided to enter into talks on a full merger. In early February 2012, ESPN.com reported that the C-USA board of directors was to meet to discuss the merger. This topic had been on the agenda even before the recent announcement that C-USA charter member Memphis had accepted an invitation from the Big East. The two conferences then met on February 12, with media reporting the following day that an official announcement of a full merger was imminent. It was reported at the time that the new conference could begin as early as 2013–14.
C-USA and the MW initially wished to dissolve and form a new association in order to negotiate new television deals. However, the NCAA told the conferences that if they merged, the new league would receive only one automatic bid to NCAA championships; at least one of the merging conferences would not receive its share of so-called "tournament units" (explained below); and at least one of the merging conferences would forfeit its conference exit fees to the departing schools. Conferences receive roughly $250,000 for each round that a member advances in the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the money is paid out after a rolling six-year period. In the event of a dissolution or merger, tournament units revert to the schools that earned them. The revenue loss to the two conferences potentially outweighed any possible gains from a new broadcast deal.
With the option of a complete merger now likely off the table, the commissioners of both C-USA and the MW indicated that all 16 schools that had been committed to those conferences beyond 2013 (15 for all sports, and Hawaiʻi for football only) had entered into binding agreements to form a new alliance. In addition, five subgroups of school presidents had been working on various aspects of the alliance since mid-February. Finally, both commissioners stated that they expected the future membership of their conferences to be set by early June 2012.
On March 12, CBSSports.com reported, citing "college football industry sources", that the MW and C-USA had been in contact with as many as 11 schools regarding the new alliance, including all seven schools that would be football members of the WAC in 2012. Other schools reportedly interested in the alliance included Sun Belt Conference members Florida Atlantic, FIU and North Texas, plus C-USA charter member Charlotte, then a non-football school in the Atlantic 10 but with plans to add a football program in 2013. The following month, CBSSports.com reported that Utah State and San Jose State were the likeliest candidates for MW membership, with the possibility of UTEP switching from C-USA to the MW. It also indicated that FIU, North Texas, and Louisiana Tech—the last of which was also being courted by the Sun Belt—were the top candidates for C-USA.
Due to defections from the MW earlier in the realignment cycle, it had to expand to maintain its FBS status. The NCAA requires that FBS conferences sponsor at least six men's sports and eight women's sports, with at least six schools in each sport. As of April 2012, the MW did not have enough schools committed to the conference beyond 2013 to sponsor championships in baseball and men's cross country. C-USA also needed to expand if it wished to continue sponsoring women's swimming and diving.
On May 4, no fewer than seven schools announced moves to one of the two conferences. Charlotte, FIU, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, and UTSA will join C-USA, with Utah State and San Jose State joining the MW. All moves will take effect in 2013. In addition, Old Dominion, an all-sports member of the CAA, including football, was reportedly considering an invitation from C-USA, which would also require an FBS upgrade. A later report indicated that Old Dominion would announce its decision no later than June 30. The Mountain West reportedly chose not to expand beyond 10 schools because it wanted to keep places open for Boise State and San Diego State to return if their football moves to the Big East did not work out.
Old Dominion announced its move to C-USA on May 17. The Monarchs will not start their FBS transition until the 2013 season, matching the plans of fellow C-USA newcomer Charlotte. Both will become C-USA football members in 2015, when their FBS transitions are complete. At the time, this gave the conference 14 members in 2013 for all sports except football; as a result, C-USA was expected to split into divisions for all sports (it already uses divisions in football). The dividing line will reportedly be the Mississippi River, with Tulane, located on the east bank of the river in New Orleans, joining the West Division. Since C-USA will continue to have at least 12 football members, its football championship game will continue for the foreseeable future. As for the CAA, reports indicated that it may pursue Davidson and Charleston from the Southern Conference. The conference ultimately invited both schools in October 2012; it was turned down by Davidson (who eventually agreed to join the Atlantic 10 Conference), but Charleston was expected to accept, and went on to officially join the CAA.
In the wake of the Big East losing Rutgers and another school (Louisville a few days later), the Big East raided Conference USA and invited Tulane and East Carolina (football only) to join the conference and they accepted. Later in 2013 after the Big East non-football members decided to split and form a new conference East Carolina was invited as a full member to start with the 2014 season. Later on in November 28, 2012, rumors popped up that Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic of the Sun Belt would be invited to replace those schools. These rumors proved to be accurate; the following day, C-USA announced that both schools would join the conference no later than 2014. On January 18, 2013, CBS Sports reported that C-USA had reached an agreement for Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic to join in July 2013, a year earlier than originally planned. C-USA officially announced the change in plans on January 22.
Less than a week after ECU accepted the full-membership invite to the renamed conference (which would eventually choose the name American Athletic Conference), C-USA added Western Kentucky to start membership in 2014, bringing the conference into that state for the first time since Louisville left in 2005. C-USA was preparing to lose Tulsa to The American, which was confirmed the next day.
|School||Sport(s)||Former conference||New conference||Date move was announced||Expected year move takes effect|
|UCF Knights||Full membership||C-USA||The American||December 7, 2011||2013|
|Houston Cougars||Full membership||C-USA||The American||December 7, 2011||2013|
|SMU Mustangs||Full membership||C-USA||The American||December 7, 2011||2013|
|Memphis Tigers||Full membership||C-USA||The American||February 8, 2012||2013|
|Charlotte 49ers||Full membership||Atlantic 10||C-USA||May 4, 2012||2013|
|FIU Panthers||Full membership||Sun Belt||C-USA||May 4, 2012||2013|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and Lady Techsters||Full membership||WAC||C-USA||May 4, 2012||2013|
|North Texas Mean Green||Full membership||Sun Belt||C-USA||May 4, 2012||2013|
|UTSA Roadrunners||Full membership||WAC||C-USA||May 4, 2012||2013|
|Old Dominion Monarchs||Full membership||CAA||C-USA||May 17, 2012||2013|
|New Mexico Lobos||Men's soccer||MPSF||C-USA||September 4, 2012||2013|
|Old Dominion Monarchs and Lady Monarchs||Men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, women's rowing||CAA||C-USA||September 4, 2012||2012|
|East Carolina Pirates||Football||C-USA||The American||November 27, 2012||2014|
|Tulane Green Wave||Full membership||C-USA||The American||November 27, 2012||2014|
|Florida Atlantic Owls||Full membership||Sun Belt||C-USA||November 29, 2012||2013|
|Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||Full membership||Sun Belt||C-USA||November 29, 2012||2013|
|Sacramento State Hornets||Women's rowing||WIRA||C-USA||March 6, 2013||2013|
|San Diego State Aztecs||Women's rowing||WIRA||C-USA||March 6, 2013||2013|
|East Carolina Pirates||Full membership||C-USA||The American||March 27, 2013||2014|
|Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers||Full membership||Sun Belt||C-USA||April 1, 2013||2014|
|Tulsa Golden Hurricane||Full membership||C-USA||The American||April 2, 2013||2014|
- "MWC, C-USA set football alliance" (Press release). ESPN. October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- Katz, Andy (February 8, 2012). "Source: C-USA board to talk merger". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- Katz, Andy (February 13, 2012). "MWC, C-USA to form new conference". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- Peloquin, Matt (April 18, 2012). "Breaking Down the CUSA & MWC Discussions". CollegeSportsInfo.com. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- McMurphy, Brett (April 17, 2012). "Conference Mountain West merger "unlikely"". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- McMurphy, Brett (March 28, 2012). "New C-USA, MWC league will be completed by early June". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- McMurphy, Brett (March 12, 2012). "WAC schools, others interested in new C-USA/MWC league". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- "Conference USA Adds Five New Members" (Press release). Conference USA. May 4, 2012. Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
- "San José State, Utah State to Join Mountain West" (Press release). Mountain West Conference. May 4, 2012. Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
- McMurphy, Brett (May 3, 2012). "7 schools on move Friday; ODU remains undecided". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- McMurphy, Brett (May 14, 2012). "VCU joining Atlantic 10 this fall". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
- Katz, Andy (May 8, 2012). "Could Big West be answer for Boise State?". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Conference USA Adds Old Dominion" (Press release). Conference USA. May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- McMurphy, Brett (May 17, 2012). "ODU will join C-USA in 2013". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Katz, Andy (October 18, 2012). "Charleston expected to join CAA". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
- "College of Charleston Accepts Invitation to Join the CAA in 2013" (Press release). Colonial Athletic Association. November 30, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
- Novy-Williams, Eben (November 28, 2012). "Tulane, East Carolina Join Big East After Rutgers Exit to Big 10". businessweek.com. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
- Dave Fairbank (December 3, 2012). "Yeager: CAA would consider partial ECU membership". Daily Press. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- Hinnen, Jerry (November 28, 2012). "Middle Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic to join Conference USA". CBSSports.com. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
- "Conference USA Adds Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic" (Press release). Conference USA. November 29, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Dodd, Dennis (January 18, 2013). "Middle Tennessee, FAU will join Conference USA for '13 season". College Football Insider. CBSSports.com. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- "Middle Tennessee & Florida Atlantic to Join Conference USA in 2013" (Press release). Conference USA. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
- At the time that East Carolina (football), Houston, Memphis, Navy (football), Old Dominion (field hockey), SMU, Temple, and UCF announced their respective moves, their destination conference was known as the Big East Conference. By the time Tulsa announced their move, it had been decided that as of July 2013, the Big East name would be assumed by the seven non-FBS schools that will depart from the original Big East. The remaining schools and the new members of the conference that will retain the charter of the original Big East then chose a new name, the American Athletic Conference.
- "Big East Conference Goes West, Announces the Addition of Five Universities". BigEast.org. Big East Conference. December 7, 2011. Archived from the original on January 9, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
- ESPN.com news services (February 8, 2012). "Memphis joining Big East next year". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- At the time UTSA announced its move to C-USA, it was still a member of the Southland Conference; it did not join the WAC until July 1, 2012.
- "Conference USA Adds Affiliate Members for 2012-13 and 2013-14" (Press release). Conference USA. September 4, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- McMurphy, Brett (November 27, 2012). "Tulane, East Carolina joining Big East". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
- "Conference USA Adds Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic" (Press release). Conference USA. November 28, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
- When C-USA initially announced the entry of Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee, it stated that the two schools would join no later than July 2014. On January 22, 2013, it announced that the two schools would instead join in July 2013. "Middle Tennessee & Florida Atlantic to Join Conference USA in 2013" (Press release). Conference USA. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
- "C-USA Rowing Welcomes Sacramento State and San Diego State" (Press release). Conference USA. March 6, 2013. Archived from the original on 2015-03-18. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- "East Carolina Joins Soon-To-Be-Renamed BIG EAST in All Sports for 2014-15 Academic Year" (Press release). Big East Conference. March 27, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-05-10. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
- "WKU Enters Athletic Membership Agreement with Conference USA Beginning July 1, 2014" (Press release). Western Kentucky University Athletics. April 1, 2013. Archived from the original on April 6, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
- "University of Tulsa Joins Current BIG EAST in 2014-15" (Press release). Big East Conference. April 2, 2013. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.