Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

C-USA's blueprint for the future falling into place Staff Report

With several of its schools expected to depart for other homes in the near future, Conference USA is seizing on the losses as an opportunity to transform itself into an all-sports league of like-minded schools.

Days after Western Athletic Conference members Rice, Southern Methodist and Tulsa said they would move to what would become C-USA's new Western Division, the first major piece in rounding out the future Eastern Division has fallen into place.

Marshall University's Board of Governors voted unanimously on Friday to authorized Dan Angel, the school's president, to sign a membership agreement with C-USA. The agreement is conditioned upon the anticipated configuration of the league after the current round of inter-conference shuffling subsides.

"A move to Conference USA affords Marshall University the opportunity to extend its championship image to a wider market of potential students and supporters," Angel said. "This move places the institution in a competitive mode in many areas and will benefit both athletics and academics."

Marshall has been a member of the Mid-American Conference since 1997. The Thundering Herd football team has appeared in all six MAC Championship games and in six consecutive bowl games. The squad has also won five MAC titles and currently owns a five-game winning streak in bowls.

In its present alignment, C-USA spans half of the continental U.S. and counts among its members 15 schools with a wide divergence of interests, including several which do not field Division I-A football teams.

Media reports have indicated that C-USA is about to lose as many as seven schools, including all of those which don't sponsor I-A football.

According to various accounts, all-sports members Cincinnati, Louisville and either South Florida or East Carolina appear headed to the Big East along with non-football-playing schools DePaul and Marquette.

Two other non-football-playing C-USA schools — Charlotte and Saint Louis — are expected to wind up in the Atlantic 10 Conference, although the Billikens may join the Missouri Valley Conference instead.

Army, a football-only member of the league, announced last summer that it would be leaving the conference to rejoin the independent ranks, though there has been speculation that the Black Knights and Navy may become "allied" members of either the Big East or C-USA for football only.

C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky issued a statement on Friday confirming that Marshall will be brought into the fold.

"In anticipation of pending conference realignment, I’m pleased that Conference USA has reached an understanding regarding Marshall’s future involvement as a member of C-USA," Banowsky said. "Marshall has done an excellent job building a quality athletic program and we view the Thundering Herd as a real asset to the conference.

"The commitment from their administration and the entire Huntington community makes Marshall truly one of the rising stars in college athletics."

Banowsky's announcement indicated that the Herd's move to C-USA is a sign the league's blueprint for reinventing itself as a two-division, all-sports league is taking shape on schedule.

“With the commitments from Marshall, Rice, SMU, and Tulsa, we have made substantial progress toward the completion of our future membership plans," he said. "We hope to fully complete this work in the weeks ahead.”

Those future plans appear to envision Eastern and Western divisions designed to reduce travel expenses and foster regional rivalries.

The Western Division appears to already be locked in, with WAC defectors Rice, SMU and Tulsa expected to be grouped with current C-USA members Houston, Texas Christian and Tulane.

Marshall appears destined to link up with present members Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB and either East Carolina or South Florida — depending upon which one bolts for the Big East — to form the bulk of the Eastern Division.

A sixth team — most likely Central Florida — would be targeted to complete the Eastern alignment. If UCF is snatched up by the Big East, Louisiana Tech is a possible fallback choice.

02.23.07 11:20 AM

©2003 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. staff member Danny Whitford contributed to this report.

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.