Conference USA (C-USA or CUSA) is an intercollegiate athletic conference whose current member institutions are located within the Southern United States. The conference participates in the NCAA's Division I in all sports. C-USA's offices are located in Dallas, Texas.
|Region||Southern United States|
|Commissioner||Judy MacLeod (since 2015)|
C-USA was founded in 1995 by the merger of the Metro Conference and Great Midwest Conference, two Division I conferences that did not sponsor football. However, the merger did not include either Great Midwest member Dayton or Metro members VCU and Virginia Tech. Since this left an uneven number of teams in the conference, Houston of the dissolving Southwest Conference was extended an invitation and agreed to join following the SWC's disbanding at the end of the 1995-96 academic year. The conference immediately started competition in all sports, except football which started in 1996.
The conference saw radical changes for the 2005–06 academic year. The Big East Conference had lost several teams, and looked to Conference USA to attract replacements. Five C-USA members departed for the Big East, including three football-playing schools (Cincinnati, Louisville, and South Florida) and two non-football schools (DePaul and Marquette; both joined the New Big East in 2013). Another two schools (Charlotte and Saint Louis) left for the Atlantic 10; TCU joined the Mountain West (and is now in the Big 12 with several other former Southwest Conference members); and a ninth member, Army, which was C-USA football-only, opted to become an independent in that sport again.
With the loss of these teams, C-USA lured six teams from other conferences: UCF and Marshall from the MAC, as well as Rice, SMU, Tulsa, and later UTEP from the WAC. Note that UCF played in the MAC for football only; for all other sports, it was a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
With C-USA's membership now consisting of 12 schools, all of which sponsor football, the conference adopted a two-division alignment.
In 2013, C-USA entered its next phase with the departure of four schools (Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF) for the American Athletic Conference, the football-sponsoring portion of the former Big East Conference. This was again the result of Big East schools leaving for the ACC, this time being Syracuse and Pittsburgh. It was announced in early 2012 that Conference USA was in talks with the Mountain West Conference about forming either a football alliance or conference merger in the future.
However, when the conferences discussed their plans with the NCAA, they were told that if they merged, the new league would receive only one automatic bid to NCAA championships; at least one of the former conferences would lose expected future revenues from the NCAA men's basketball tournament; and at least one former conference would lose exit fees from any schools that departed for the new league. As a result, both C-USA and the MW backed away from a full merger. As of April 2012, the likeliest scenario was an all-sports alliance in which both conferences retain separate identities. However, after the MW added more members, the alliance was apparently abandoned.
For men's soccer, there was a chance that the MW, SEC, and C-USA along with the one Sun Belt member (FIU), that sponsor the sport, would play under the C-USA's men's soccer program. The MW, which does not sponsor men's soccer, would take three of the four members that offer the sport (UNLV, Air Force, New Mexico—San Diego State is a Pac-12 associate member in that sport), join C-USA's three full members that offer the sport (UAB, Marshall, Tulsa), the two SEC members already in C-USA for the sport (Kentucky, South Carolina), and the Sun Belt's FIU. However, the only MW member school that ultimately moved to C-USA men's soccer was New Mexico.
For the 2013–14 season C-USA invited five new members to join their conference, with all accepting. UTSA and Louisiana Tech joined from the WAC and North Texas and FIU, (an affiliate member of C-USA joining for men's soccer in 2005), from the Sun Belt Conference. Old Dominion, which already housed five of its sports in C-USA, moved the rest of its athletic program from the CAA (except for field hockey, women's lacrosse and wrestling, with the three sports joining the new Big East, the Atlantic Sun, and the MAC respectively because C-USA does not sponsor those sports) and upgraded its football program from the Football Championship Subdivision. Charter member Charlotte returned from the A-10 and accelerated its recently established football program, which was set to begin play in 2013 as an FCS school, to FBS in 2015 with full conference rights in 2016.
On November 27, 2012, it was announced that Tulane would leave the conference to join the Big East in all sports, and East Carolina would join the Big East for football only (ECU's membership was upgraded to all-sports in March 2013 after the Big East's non-football members, save for ACC-bound Notre Dame, announced they were leaving to form a new conference which took the Big East name, leaving the football-playing members to become the American Athletic Conference). Conference USA responded by adding Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, both from the Sun Belt.
Citing financial difficulties, the UAB football program was shut down on December 2, 2014. According to Conference USA bylaws, member schools must sponsor football. In January 2015, UAB announced an independent re-evaluation of the program and the finances involved, leaving open a possible resumption of the program as early as the 2016 season. On January 29, 2015, the conference announced that there was no time pressure in making a decision regarding UAB's future membership. The conference also stated that it would wait for the results of the new study before any further discussions on the subject. On June 1, UAB announced that it would reinstate football effective with the 2016 season, presumably keeping the school in C-USA for the immediate future. The return of football was later pushed back to 2017. The Blazers won the 2018 conference championship their second year back.
Commissioner Britton Banowsky stepped down on September 15, 2015 to become the head of the College Football Playoff Foundation. Executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer Judy MacLeod was subsequently named interim commissioner. On October 26 MacLeod was named the conference's third official commissioner, also becoming the first woman to head an FBS conference.
- UAB was a full but non-football member at two different times—1995 to 1999, when the school was independent in football, and 2015 to 2017, after UAB discontinued its football program. UAB football returned for the 2017 season.
- FIU was a men's soccer affiliate from 2005 to 2013.
- Charlotte was a full but non-football member from 1995 to 2005 and again from 2013 to 2015.
- Old Dominion was an affiliate in men's golf, women's golf, rowing, men's tennis, and women's tennis in 2012–13; full but non-football member in 2013–14.
- Some Old Dominion women's sports use "Monarchs" and others "Lady Monarchs", as follows:
- Monarchs – Field hockey, lacrosse
- Lady Monarchs – Basketball, golf, rowing, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis
- Western Kentucky was an affiliate in women's swimming & diving in 2013–14.
In this table, all dates reflect the calendar year of entry into Conference USA, which for spring sports is the year before the start of competition.
|University of Kentucky||Lexington, Kentucky||1865||26,054||Wildcats||2005||soccer (m)||Southeastern|
|University of South Carolina||Columbia, South Carolina||1801||28,481||Gamecocks||2005||Southeastern|
- Affiliate in football from 1997 to 2001.
- Houston was a founding member of C-USA in 1995 but did not begin competition until 1996 because of its commitments to the final year of competition in the Southwest Conference.
Former affiliate members
In this table, all dates reflect each school's actual entry into and departure from Conference USA. For spring sports, the joining date is the calendar year before the start of competition. For fall sports, the departure date is the calendar year after the last season of competition.
Full members (all-sports) Full members (non-football) Affiliate members (football-only) Affiliate member (other sport)Other Conference Other Conference
- Michael Slive 1995–2002
- Britton Banowsky 2002–2015
- Judy MacLeod 2015–present
|Swimming & Diving||–||7|
|Track and Field (Indoor)||10||13|
|Track and Field (Outdoor)||10||13|
Men's sponsored sports by school
- Affiliate members Kentucky and South Carolina.
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by Conference USA which are played by current full C-USA members:
- Sailing is a coeducational team sport. It is not sanctioned by the NCAA, but instead by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association.
Women's sponsored sports by school
- Old Dominion will add women's volleyball for the 2020 season.
- Rice fields a women's team in swimming but not in diving.
- Western Kentucky announced on April 14, 2015 that it would suspend its men's and women's swimming & diving teams for at least 5 years (only the women's team competed in C-USA). This followed a police investigation into claims of assault and hazing by a former men's team member which in turn found multiple violations of university policies on harassment and sexual misconduct.
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by Conference USA which are played by current full C-USA members:
|School||Beach volleyball||Bowling||Field hockey||Lacrosse||Rifle||Rowing||Sailing|
|Old Dominion||No||No||Big East||Big East||No||The American||MAISA|
- Rifle is technically classified as a men's sport by the NCAA, but allows competitors of both sexes, and also allows schools to field any combination of coed and single-sex teams. UTEP fields a women-only teams.
- Sailing is a coeducational team sport. It is not sanctioned by the NCAA, but instead by the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association.
Conference USA uses a divisional format only for football.
For the upcoming season, see 2019 Conference USA football season.
|Florida Atlantic||2001||92–126||.422||3||3–0||2||Lane Kiffin|
|Middle Tennessee||1911||581–430–28||.573||8||2–6||13||Rick Stockstill|
|Old Dominion||1930||120–83–4||.589||1||1–0||0||Bobby Wilder|
|Western Kentucky||1908||575–400–30||.587||5||3–2||13||Tyson Helton|
|Louisiana Tech||1901||620–462–39||.570||11||7–3–1||25||Skip Holtz|
|North Texas||1913||516–506–33||.505||10||2–8||24||Seth Littrell|
|Southern Miss||1912||590–423–26||.580||23||11–12||8||Jay Hopson|
The highest-ranked champion from the so-called "Group of Five" conferences (The American, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) is guaranteed a berth in one of the non-semifinal bowls of the College Football Playoff if the group's top team is not in the playoff.
|Cotton Bowl Classic||Arlington, Texas||AT&T Stadium||at-large|
|Fiesta Bowl||Glendale, Arizona||State Farm Stadium||at-large|
|Peach Bowl||Atlanta, Georgia||Mercedes-Benz Stadium||at-large|
For the 2014–19 seasons, Conference USA is guaranteed at least five of the following bowl games.
Current or former C-USA in conference rivalries:
|Teams||Rivalry Name||Trophy||Meetings||Record||Series Leader||Current Streak|
|UAB||Memphis||Battle for the Bones||Bones Trophy||7||4-3||UAB||Memphis won 1|
|FIU||Florida Atlantic||Shula Bowl||Don Shula Award||15||5–10||Florida Atlantic||FIU won 1|
|Louisiana Tech||Southern Miss||Rivalry in Dixie||—||46||15–31||Southern Miss||Louisiana Tech won 2|
|Marshall||East Carolina||East Carolina–Marshall football rivalry||—||15||10–5||East Carolina||Marshall won 1|
|Middle Tennessee||Western Kentucky||100 Miles of Hate||—||65||34–31–1||Middle Tennessee||WKU won 2|
|Middle Tennessee||Troy||Battle for the Palladium||The Palladium||20||12–8||Middle Tennessee||Middle Tennessee won 1|
|Western Kentucky||Marshall||Moonshine Throwdown||—||10||6–4||Marshall||Marshall won 2|
|North Texas||SMU||Safeway Bowl||—||34||28–5–1||SMU||North Texas won 1|
|Rice||Houston||Bayou Bucket Classic||—||40||11–29||Houston||Houston won 3|
|Rice||SMU||Battle for the Mayor's Cup||Mayor's Cup||89||40–48–1||SMU||Rice won 1|
|Southern Miss||Memphis||Black and Blue Bowl||—||63||40–22–1||Southern Miss||Memphis won 1|
|Southern Miss||Tulane||Battle for the Bell||The Bell||30||23–7||Southern Miss||Southern Miss won 6|
|UAB||1979||537–495||.520||2||2–2||Bartow Arena||Randy Norton|
|Charlotte||1976||537–398||.574||2||0–2||Dale F. Halton Arena||Cara Consuegra|
|Florida Atlantic||1985||387–419||.480||1||0–1||FAU Arena||Jim Jabir|
|FIU||1976||668–396||.628||6||3–6||Ocean Bank Convocation Center||Tiara Malcom|
|Louisiana Tech||1975||1031–244||.809||27||65–25||Thomas Assembly Center||Brooke Stoehr|
|Marshall||1970||591–597||.497||1||0–1||Cam Henderson Center||Tony Kemper|
|Middle Tennessee||1976||764–361||.679||16||5–16||Murphy Center||Rick Insell|
|North Texas||1977||434–602||.419||1||0–1||UNT Coliseum||Jalie Mitchell|
|Old Dominion||1970||959–358||.728||25||34–24||Ted Constant Convocation Center||Nikki McCray|
|Rice||1979||511–503||.504||2||1–2||Tudor Fieldhouse||Tina Langley|
|Southern Miss||1976||618–476||.565||8||4–8||Reed Green Coliseum||Joye Lee-McNelis|
|UTEP||1975||461–579||.443||2||1–2||Don Haskins Center||Kevin Baker|
|UTSA||1982||453–449||.502||2||0–2||Convocation Center||Kristen Holt|
|Western Kentucky||1914||848–440||.658||16||17–16||E. A. Diddle Arena||Greg Collins|
Current C-USA champions
Champions from the previous school year are in italics. "RS" is regular season.
No team has won an NCAA team championship as a member of C-USA.
However, the following C-USA teams have won national championships when they were not affiliated with C-USA:
|FIU||2||Men's Soccer (Division II)||1982, 1984|
|Louisiana Tech||5||Football (Division II)||1972, 1973|
|Women's basketball||1981, 1982, 1988|
|Marshall||2||Football (Division I-AA)||1992, 1996|
|North Texas||4||Men's golf||1949, 1950, 1951, 1952|
|Old Dominion||28||Men's basketball||1975 (Division II)|
|Women's basketball||1979 (AIAW), 1980 (AIAW), 1985|
|Women's field hockey||1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2000|
|Sailing||1982, 1987, 1989 (Three classes), 1990 (Two classes), 1992, 1996, 1998 (Two classes), 2002 (Two classes), 2003, 2004|
|Southern Miss||2||Football (Division II)||1958, 1962|
|Men's outdoor track and field||1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982|
|Men's indoor track and field||1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982|
|Men's cross country||1969, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981|
|Western Kentucky||1||Football (Division I-AA)||2002|
- UAB football is expected to move into the new Protective Stadium (capacity 45,407) on the Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex grounds in 2021.
- Marshall is preparing to build a new on-campus ballpark, as yet unnamed (capacity 3,500), and plans to open it in 2021.
In 2016, C-USA began a long-term television contract with lead partners ESPN and CBS Sports Network, with ESPN carrying 5 football games and the football championship game; and CBSSN carrying 6 football games, 5 basketball games, and both the men's and women's basketball championship games. C-USA also renewed and expanded its partnership with American Sports Network; owned and operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, ASN will carry between 15 and 30 football games; between 13 and 55 men's basketball games; and between 2 and 5 women's basketball games. ASN will also carry 10 events in other C-USA sports.
The conference also entered into a contract with beIN Sports for 10 football games (marking the first domestic American football rights the network has ever acquired, and the first broadcast rights deal it had ever entered into with a college conference), 10 men's and 10 women's basketball games, 12 baseball and 12 softball games, 10 men's and 10 women's soccer games (excluding conference men's soccer games at Kentucky and South Carolina, covered by their primary conference's contract), and 10 women's volleyball games.
The total values of the 2016 contracts are notably lower than those of the previous contracts (which included Fox Sports).
Men's soccer associate members Kentucky and South Carolina have an agreement with their primary conference for other sports to carry all home matches online through the SEC Network service, including all Conference USA conference matches. ESPN and the SEC Network will have first rights to all C-USA home men's soccer matches featuring both schools.
In 2017 American Sports Network and Campus Insiders merged creating Stadium. Stadium's C-USA content will be available to stream on Twitter and Pluto TV. In 2017 Stadium completed a deal with Facebook to exclusively stream some C-USA football games. In 2017 C-USA entered an agreement with the streaming subscription service FloSports to stream three football games.
In 2016 C-USA partnered with SIDEARM Sports to create a subscription based streaming service named CUSA.tv. In a statement C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said. "Thanks to our partnership with SIDEARM Sports, this new site showcases a clean modern look with easy access to information and we are proud to offer live content and original feature stories through our CUSA.tv." Various sports including football, basketball, and baseball will exclusively air on CUSA.tv when they are not picked up by other networks.
One of the current member schools, Rice University is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. Rice and UAB are doctorate-granting universities with "very high research activity," the highest classification given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Rice, UAB, Louisiana Tech, and Charlotte are ranked as Tier One National Universities in U.S. News and World Report's 2018 Best Colleges rankings.
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Public (UA System)||Research (Very High)||N/A||149 (National)||518|
|Florida Atlantic University||Public (SUSF)||Research (High)||$270,933,875||RNP (National)||536|
|Florida International University||Public (SUSF)||Research (Very High)||$230,954,000||RNP (National)||487|
|Louisiana Tech University||Public (UL System)||Research (High)||N/A||199 (National)||389|
|Marshall University||Public||Master's (Larger)||$114,742,403||45 (Regional: South)||N/A|
|Middle Tennessee State University||Public (TBR)||Doctoral/Research||$75,710,000||RNP (National)||635|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Public (UNC System)||Doctoral/Research||$166,591,692||194 (National)||495|
|University of North Texas||Public (UNT System)||Research (High)||$131,749,714||RNP (National)||570|
|Old Dominion University||Public||Research (High)||$240,900,000||210 (National)||551|
|Rice University||Private||Research (Very High)||$4,836,728,000||18 (National)||32|
|University of Southern Mississippi||Public||Research (High)||$68,863,000||RNP (National)||575|
|University of Texas at El Paso||Public (UT System)||Research (High)||N/A||RNP (National)||491|
|University of Texas at San Antonio||Public (UT System)||Research (High)||N/A||RNP (National)||642|
|Western Kentucky University||Public||Master's (Larger)||$118,396,000||31 (Regional: South)||584|
- UAB, Louisiana Tech, UTEP, and UTSA did not participate in the 2013 NACUBO Endowment Study.
- In the 2016 US News national university rankings, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, UTEP, and UTSA are listed as Rank Not Published (RNP), otherwise known as Tier Two.
- Marshall is not ranked in the 2015 Forbes America's Best 650 Colleges rankings.
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