Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Conference USA

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Established  1995
Members  14
Headquarters  Irving
Division  Division I FBS
Region  Southern United States
Founded  1995

Sports fielded  19 (men's: 9; women's: 10)
Commissioner  Judy MacLeod (since 2015)
Association  National Collegiate Athletic Association
Teams  Marshall Thundering Herd foot, Western Kentucky Hilltopper, Southern Miss Golden E, Florida Atlantic Owls foot, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs f

Conference USA (C-USA or CUSA) is a collegiate athletic conference whose 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 the Las Colinas business district of the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas.


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. To even out at 12 members (because Dayton, VCU, and Virginia Tech were left out of the merger) the conference invited the University of Houston, but UH could not start C-USA play for a year due to committing to being in the Southwest Conference in its final year. The conference immediately started competition in all sports except for football, which did not launch until 1996.

Conference usa 2013 school introductions

Current members


Former members


Former affiliate members


Membership timeline

Full members (all-sports) Full members (non-football) Affiliate members (football-only) Affiliate member (other sport)Other Conference Other Conference


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. To even out at 12 members (because Dayton, VCU, and Virginia Tech were left out of the merger) the conference invited the University of Houston, but UH could not start C-USA play for a year due to committing to being in the Southwest Conference in its final 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 stage for these changes was set in 2003, when the Atlantic Coast Conference successfully lured Miami and Virginia Tech to make a move from the Big East Conference in 2004. Boston College would later make the same move, joining the ACC in 2005. In response to that series of moves, which depleted the Big East football conference, the Big East 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; Louisville moved to the ACC in 2014) 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 has 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. On April 1, 2013, Conference USA announced they were adding Western Kentucky, also from the Sun Belt, to offset Tulsa's departure to The American in all sports which was confirmed the next day.

Citing yet unproven increasing 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.

Commissioner Britton Banowsky stepped down on Septerber 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 MacLoed was named the conference's third official commissioner, also becoming the first woman to head an FBS conference.


  • Michael Slive 1995–2002
  • Britton Banowsky 2002–2015
  • Judy MacLeod 2015–present
  • Sports Sponsored

    Conference USA sponsors championship competition in nine men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Three schools are affiliate members for men's soccer.

    Men's sponsored sports by school

  • # = Affiliate members for men's soccer–Kentucky, New Mexico, and South Carolina.
  • * = UAB discontinued their football program after the 2014 season and will add men's Cross Country in 2015 in order to maintain Division I membership. The school later reversed its decision to drop football, announcing that it would reinstate the sport effective with the 2017 season.
  • Men's varsity sports not sponsored by Conference USA which are played by current full C-USA members:

    Women's sponsored sports by school

  • 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 Golf will be added to the Charlotte sports lineup for the 2017–18 school year.
  • Women's varsity sports not sponsored by Conference USA which are played by current full C-USA members:


    Conference USA uses a divisional format only for football.

    For the most recent season, see 2016 Conference USA football season.

    C-USA champions

    Bowl games

    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.

    For the 2015–19 seasons, Conference USA is guaranteed at least five of the following bowl games.


    Football rivalries involving C-USA teams include:

    Men's basketball

    For the current season, see 2016–17 Conference USA men's basketball season.

    This list goes through the 2013–14 season.

    Women's basketball

    This list goes through the 2012–13 season.

    Current C-USA champions

    Champions from the previous school year are in italics.

    National champions

    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:


    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 CUSA 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.


    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 2016 Best Colleges rankings.



    Conference USA Wikipedia