MTSU gets a bit of clarity about its future in Conference-USA

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 10:07pm
Staff reports

The conclusion of the Conference-USA winter meetings on Wednesday provided MTSU with some valuable information in regard to its first year of competition in the league.

For example, the university knows its 2013 football opponents and the length of the conference basketball season (16 games).

“We had extremely productive meetings and we are fortunate to have such a great group,” C-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, which are ambitious and have made significant investments. They are well positioned to be the next generation of great programs. We have tremendous upside potential."

MTSU announced on Tuesday its intention to leave the Sun Belt Conference a year earlier than expected and officially join the C-USA on July 1.

On the football field in 2013, the Blue Raiders will host conference games against East Carolina, Florida International, Marshall and UTEP and will travel to Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Southern Miss and UAB. The Blue Raiders have already scheduled non-conference games at home against Western Carolina and Memphis and on the road against North Carolina and BYU.

“What a tremendous home schedule this will be for our fans,” athletics director Chris Massaro said. “We have three iconic brands in Conference USA, along with an old friend in FIU, coming to Floyd Stadium. It will also be a lot of fun going on the road to UAB, Southern Miss, North Texas and FAU because they are all great trips. This is a schedule I know our fans will be eager to support.”

In football, MTSU will be in the East Division along with ECU, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Southern Miss and UAB. The West Division will consist of Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP and Texas at San Antonio.

With an eight-game conference schedule, schools will play all six divisional foes and two games against opponents from the other division in a one-year rotation.

Men’s and women’s basketball will not have divisions and teams will play a 16-game conference schedule. With 14 schools in the conference, MTSU will play every opponent once and a geographic opponent (Alabama-Birmingham) twice.

The 2014 conference tournament will be held at UTEP.

The meetings also saw the release of updated league TV market information.

Starting next year, C-USA home markets will include more than 14.5 million TV households, an increase of 43 percent over the current 10.1 million homes. Conference USA has television agreements with Fox Sports Networks and CBS Sports Network, and ESPN will continue to carry the C-USA Football Championship. As one of the largest BCS conferences in 2013, 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.