Conference USA

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Conference USA, officially abbreviated C-USA, is a group of college sports teams that play each other on the NCAA Division I level. It was formed in 1995 when the Great Midwest Conference and Metro Conference merged, and has added several members since then. Most of the new members have come from either the Western Athletic Conference or the Sun Belt Conference (SBC). From 2005 to 2014, it also lost many members, mostly to the original Big East Conference and its football-playing offshoot, the American Athletic Conference (The American). In a later wave of conference changes in the early 2020s, C-USA lost three members to the SBC in 2022 and six to The American in 2023. C-USA responded to these later moves by adding five new members, with four set to join in July 2023 and one in July 2024.

The conference sends several teams to bowl games every year, including the Liberty Bowl and New Orleans Bowl.

Memphis (now a member of The American) has been the most successful men's basketball team in the conference, reaching the national championship game in 2008. (However, the NCAA later took Memphis's wins from that season away because a Memphis player, namely Derrick Rose, had not been eligible to play.)[1]

Members[change | change source]

University of Tulsa playing basketball against the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Conference USA now has 11 "full members" which play most of their sports in the league; all except Rice (which leaves in July 2023 for The American) are public schools. Of the five future members, Liberty (joining in July 2023) is the only private school.

Before 2022, the schools were split into East and West Divisions for some sports, most notably football; this allowed the football division winners to play a conference championship game. The divisional split ended with the loss of three members to the SBC. The football championship game now features the top two teams in the conference standings.

Departing members are highlighted in pink,

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joined
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte) Charlotte, North Carolina 1946 Public 49ers 1995, 2013[a 1]
Florida International University (FIU) Miami, Florida 1965 Public Panthers 2013[a 2]
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1961 Public Owls 2013
Louisiana Tech University Ruston, Louisiana 1894 Public Bulldogs &
Lady Techsters
Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, Tennessee 1911 Public Blue Raiders 2005
University of North Texas Denton, Texas 1890 Public Mean Green 2013
Rice University Houston, Texas 1912 Private Owls 2005
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham, Alabama 1969 Public Blazers 1995
University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) El Paso, Texas 1914 Public Miners &
Lady Miners
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) San Antonio, Texas 1969 Public Roadrunners 2013
Western Kentucky University (WKU) Bowling Green, Kentucky 1906 Public Hilltoppers &
Lady Toppers
2014[a 3]
  1. Charlotte left in 2005 for the Atlantic 10 Conference and came back in 2013.
  2. FIU was a member in men's soccer only from 2005 to 2013.
  3. WKU was a member in women's swimming and diving only in the 2013–14 school year.

Future members[change | change source]

C-USA will add four members in 2023 and one in 2024.

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joining Former
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama 1883 Public Gamecocks 2023 ASUN
Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia 1971 Private Flames &
Lady Flames
2023 ASUN
FBS independent (football)
New Mexico State University Lynchburg, Virginia 1888 Public Aggies 2023 WAC
FBS independent (football)
Sam Houston State University
(Sam Houston)
Huntsville, Texas 1879 Public Bearkats 2023 WAC
Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, Georgia 1963 Public Owls 2024 ASUN
FCS independent (football)

Associate members[change | change source]

C-USA now has three "associate members"—schools that are full members of another conference who play select sports in C-USA. One plays baseball, and two play women's beach volleyball. One of the beach volleyball members will become a full member in July 2023.

School Location Founded Type Nickname C-USA
Joined Main Conference
Dallas Baptist University Dallas, Texas 1898 Private Patriots Baseball 2022 Lone Star
(Division II)
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama 1883 Public Gamecocks Beach volleyball 2022 ASUN
(C-USA in July 2023)
Tulane University New Orleans, Louisiana 1834 Private Green Wave Beach volleyball 2022 The American

Former full members[change | change source]

No fewer than 17 schools have left C-USA since it was founded. Most of these schools are now members of the American Athletic Conference.

School Location Founded Type Nickname Joined Left Current Conference
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 1819 Public Bearcats 1995 2005 The American
(Big 12 in 2023)
DePaul University Chicago, Illinois 1898 Private Blue Demons 1995 2005 Big East
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 1907 Public Pirates 2001[b 1] 2014 The American
University of Houston Houston, Texas 1907 Public Cougars 1996[b 2] 2013 The American
(Big 12 in 2023)
University of Louisville Louisville, Kentucky 1798 Public Cardinals 1995 2005 ACC
Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia 1837 Public Thundering Herd 2005 2022 Sun Belt
Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1881 Private Golden Eagles 1995 2005 Big East
University of Memphis Memphis, Tennessee 1912 Public Tigers 1995 2013 The American
Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia 1930 Public Monarchs 2013[b 3] 2022 Sun Belt
Saint Louis University St. Louis, Missouri 1818 Private Billikens 1995 2005 Atlantic 10
Southern Methodist University (SMU) University Park, Texas 1911 Private Mustangs 2005 2013 The American
University of South Florida Tampa, Florida 1956 Public Bulls 1995 2005 The American
University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1910 Public Golden Eagles 1995 2022 Sun Belt
Texas Christian University (TCU) Fort Worth, Texas 1873 Private Horned Frogs &
Lady Frogs
2001 2005 Big 12
Tulane University New Orleans, Louisiana 1834 Private Green Wave 1995 2014 The American
University of Tulsa Tulsa, Oklahoma 1894 Private Golden Hurricane 2005 2014 The American
University of Central Florida (UCF) Orlando, Florida 1963 Public Knights 2005 2013 The American
(Big 12 in 2023)
  1. Before joining C-USA, East Carolina had been a football-only member since 1997.
  2. Houston was a founding member of C-USA in 1995, but did not start play until 1996. It was committed to playing in the final season of its old league, the Southwest Conference.
  3. Before becoming a full member in 2013, Old Dominion was an affiliate in men's golf, women's golf, rowing, men's tennis, and women's tennis in 2012–13. Its football team did not join C-USA until 2014..

Former associate members[change | change source]

In addition to the former full members, 21 other schools have been associate members in the past, but have moved their C-USA sports elsewhere. Most notably, the United States Military Academy, more often called "Army" in a sports context, was a football member from 1996 to 2005 (final C-USA season in 2004).

References[change | change source]

  1. Garci, Marlen (August 19, 2009). "NCAA vacates Memphis' '07–08 season record, Final Four run". USA Today. Gannett Company, Inc. Retrieved May 4, 2012.