C-USA adds two teams; commissioner denounces volatility of conference realignment
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Friday, November 30, 2012
11/30/12 at 3:57 AM
In response to yet another raid by the Big East on his membership roster, Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky formally announced on Thursday the 2014 additions of Middle Tennessee State University and Florida Atlantic University.
At the end of the 2012-13 sports calendar, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU move from C-USA to the Big East. This week, it was announced that two additional Conference USA schools - East Carolina and Tulane - are joining the Big East in 2014.
"This is a personal opinion, but I believe the volatility (resulting from conference shifts) is not healthy," Banowsky said during a teleconference. "It's particularly harmful to higher education. Every time the system gets shocked, it is harder to restore trust and collaboration among universities and conferences."
"We're destroying rivalries and creating a lot of distrust among universities," Banowsky added. "It's disturbing. ... My hope is that we can find some opportunity to breathe and settle a little bit."
After East Carolina and Tulane have departed, Conference USA will be left with only two original members - UAB and Southern Miss. The league was established in 1995.
In 2013, C-USA will remain at 12 teams for football. There will be 14 members in 2013-14, but two of the new schools - Charlotte and Old Dominion - do not immediately compete in football. Old Dominion's football membership takes effect in 2014, while Charlotte becomes a C-USA football school in 2015.
For the 2013 season and beyond, Conference USA is expected to stand pat with its two-division format for football. The 2013 divisional breakdown has not been determined, but it is expected that the University of Tulsa will be in a division with North Texas, Rice, Tulane, UTEP and Texas-San Antonio.
"We'll know in the next 60 days," Banowsky said. "We've got a football schedule that we've got to put out by Feb. 1. We'll be busy."
Banowsky was asked whether Conference USA is destined for expansion to 16 members.
"We'll have a presidential process and we're going to focus on what our optimum structure is," he said. "Whether or not the Big East moves again - or somebody moves again - we'll be ready if they do.
"But it's not going to influence what we think might be the best structure. We may grow again, but we need to be thoughtful with the way we do it."
C-USA's current television deal with Fox and CBS expires during the summer of 2015.
Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic currently are members of the Sun Belt Conference. Middle Tennessee, located in Murfreesboro, is Tennessee's largest public university with an enrollment of more than 25,000. The Blue Raider football team is 8-3 and visits Arkansas State on Saturday. That winner captures the Sun Belt title.
Florida Atlantic, located in Boca Raton in the Miami area, has an even greater enrollment at 28,000. Last year, FAU completed construction of a 30,000-seat, on-campus football stadium.
Note: Final year for Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU. All are headed to the Big East Conference.
Note: Final year for East Carolina and Tulane. Both are headed to the Big East Conference. Old Dominion does not become a football member until 2014. Charlotte does not become a football member until 2015.
Note: Charlotte does not become a football member until 2015.
Original Print Headline: C-USA's Banowsky denounces 'volatility'
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Britton Banowsky: C-USA commissioner announces additions of Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic to the league in 2014