In a response to losing Tulane and East Carolina earlier in the week, Conference USA has added two new members. Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced today the league has entered into membership agreements with Middle Tennessee State University and Florida Atlantic University that will begin no later than July 1, 2014.
"We are excited to announce these two schools will join Conference USA," Banowsky said. "Besides being tremendous institutions, this is a logical move for us. These schools fit well within our strategic plan to be a major market, two-division conference that is student-athlete and fan friendly. We know they will make great contributions to our bright future."
Located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., just outside of Nashville, Middle Tennessee boasts an enrollment of 25,394 students. The school sponsors 17 NCAA Division I sports and is the largest public university in the state of Tennessee. The Blue Raider football team is currently 8-3 and will be playing for a conference championship Saturday. Middle Tennessee will be making its fourth bowl appearance in seven years. Nashville is one of only 29 markets that reach more than 1,000,000 homes and is the fourth Top 30 market for Conference USA.
Florida Atlantic also sponsors 17 sports and has an enrollment of 28,000 students. Thirteen months ago, a 30,000-seat football stadium opened on the Boca Raton campus. The Florida Department of Tourism estimates game day local economic impact at $1.7 million. In addition to the nearby Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market, the West Palm Beach market ranks No. 38 nationally.
Earlier this year, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte), Florida International University (FIU), Louisiana Tech University, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) finalized comprehensive membership agreements to begin competition in Conference USA for 2013. Current C-USA members that will remain in the league in 2014-15 include Marshall University, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, The University of Tulsa, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). The metro area population of these 14 schools within 10 different states is nearly 29 million.