Jan. 23, 2013
Conference USA athletics directors wrapped up two days of Winter Meetings Wednesday, approving the new divisional format as well as the home and road opponents for the 2013 football season.
Rice will join with Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP and UTSA in the Western Division, with East Carolina, FAU, FIU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and UAB making up the Eastern Division. A single round-robin will be played within divisions with two cross division opponents. The Conference schedule is based on two seven team divisions, with institutions playing all (6) teams within the division and two of the teams in the other division, in a one-year rotation. Additionally, the athletics directors determined Old Dominion would be eligible for an East Division title and the opportunity to compete in the 2014 C-USA Football Championship. However, they would not be eligible for a bowl berth until 2015.
Rice will host FAU, Louisiana Tech, Tulane and UTEP at Rice Stadium and will travel to North Texas, Tulsa, UAB and UTSA in 2013.
"The new alignment in the conference for football presents a fresh challenge and we look forward to carrying the momentum from our Armed Force Bowl championship into our pursuit for the C-USA title in 2013," Rice Director of Athletics Rick Greenspan said. "The Commissioner has worked very hard within the current culture of change that dominates college athletics at this time. We will continue our efforts as well to manage these very fluid times in order to enhance the standard of excellence that is the expectation of everyone at Rice."
During the meetings, C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky led a series of discussions and presentations regarding the future of the conference, beginning with the realigned membership on July 1, 2013.
"We had extremely productive meetings and we are fortunate to have such a great group," Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said. "Our new members bring added competitive strength, especially in the areas of football and basketball, and we have dramatically increased the size of our television footprint. Our Conference generally represents growing institutions, in large markets, who are ambitious and have made significant investments. They are well positioned to be the next generation of great programs. We have tremendous upside potential."
During the meetings, FAU and Middle Tennessee were officially welcomed as members of Conference USA beginning in 2013. Both teams will exit the Sun Belt Conference one year earlier than initially announced and will be eligible to compete in all C-USA sports. Conference USA will have 14 members compete in football and 16 members for its other 19 sports during the 2013-14 athletic season.
Conference USA has television agreements with Fox Sports Networks and CBS Sports Network, and ESPN will continue to carry the C-USA Football Championship. C-USA membership will include institutions in 12 of the Top 65 television markets, eight in the Top 40 and four in the Top 25 media markets according to Nielson. C-USA home markets next year will include a little more than 14.5 million TV households, a 43 percent increase to our current 10.1 million homes.
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