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Conference realignments trickle down to MTSU

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Conference realignments trickle down to MTSU | Sports, MTSU, Conference USA, Sun Belt, SBC

Athletic Director Chris Massaro and President Sidney McPhee announce Middle Tennessee State University is leaving the Sun Belt Conference during Nov. 29, 2012, press conference in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Willard)

MTSU is leaving the Sun Belt Conference and joining Conference USA, university officials announced Thursday.

"I'm pleased to announce MTSU has accepted an invitation to become a member of Conference USA," MTSU President Sidney McPhee said. "It is indeed an exciting time to be a Blue Raider fan."

The move will come no later than 2014.

The announcement comes after C-USA members, Tulane and East Carolina, announced they are leaving the to join the Big East.

"We are excited to announce these two schools will join Conference USA," Conference USA Commissioner Britton 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."

MTSU's addition, along with fellow SBC member Florida Atlantic University, will bring the league to 14 members in 2014. C-USA annouced in May that Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UT-San Antonio will join the conference in 2013 and Old Dominion will also join in 2014.

These schools were added to replace Memphis, Houston, Southern Methodist University and the University of Central Florida, who are also joining the Big East in 2013.

Athletic Director Chris Massaro said the univeristy had been in discussions with C-USA in the spring, after the first wave of schools announced they were leaving for the BCS-eligible Big East.

"When the Big 10 began, the dialogue started again," he said, referencing Rutgers and Maryland recent decisions to join the Big 10. These shifts opened up opportunities for schools to realign and cascaded down to MTSU.

The Blue Raiders have competed in the SBC for 13 years. In that time, they have been awarded 38 Coach of the Year trophies, won 54 conference championships, had 63 NCAA postseason appearances and won the Bubas Cup an amazing 66 percent of the time.

"We have dominated the Bubas Cup in the last 10 years," McPhee said.

To top that, in the 2011 season, MTSU was one of only 12 schools with Academic Progress Rates in the top 10 percent.

"This is a remarkable honor we share with some of the elite universities in the nation," McPhee said.

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Members Opinions:
December 06, 2012 at 7:06pm
I can’t say that anyone can be surprised by this move. Upsetting, yes, but this is nothing out of the ordinary for smaller schools trying to gain athletic clout. . MTSU fans would like to think that this move was due to the success that the football and basketball teams have had, in recent years, relative to the rest of the Sun Belt Conference. While there is a bit of truth to this, the move is dictated by what has always been responsible for conference hopping, money.

This seems eerily similar of what the University of Louisville pulled in 2005. After having consecutive, successful seasons in football and men’s basketball, the Cardinals opted to join the Big East Conference and leave Conference USA in the dust; the same conference that the MTSU Athletic Department is so quick to jump aboard. Now, after just one decent football season, Louisville joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. This did not make sense at all for the basketball team given that the Big East is arguably the most competitive every year. So why did they jump ship again, less than ten years later? Once again, for the money. MTSU will inevitably go to Conference USA and will stay until they achieve some success and move on or get shut down and take the next best offer from another conference. But, in the end, no one should be surprised from the jump given that schools go where the money goes.
December 06, 2012 at 9:11pm
Hooray! I am so happy MTSU will be apart of a new conference! This is a prestigious honor for the MTSU athletic department. Changing conference will definitely help MTSU fan base grow and increase our schools profit and help the MTSU athletic department. The league will now have 14 members since MTSU has joined. Conference USA has grown so much because many schools have left to join the Big East conference. I think this is interesting that so many schools have left conference USA. I hope this does not mean that Conference USA is not a quality conference. Although I think MTSU service to the school by going to a higher conference. I also think that the reason for Mtsu is leaving the conference is because our success this year. I also believe that MTSU has outgrown the Sunbelt Conference. This is because we have won 38 trophies and 54 conference championships. Conference USA is a wonderful opportunity for MTSU to be apart of. MTSU athletes have also good grades. I hope when MTSU joins this conference in 2014 great things will happen. I really hope that our teams win a lot more games than previous years. I just want to congratulate anyone in the athletic department.
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