ECU's Ballard Addresses New "Super Conference"

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard says the creation of a super conference involving Conference USA and the Mountain West would have many benefits for East Carolina University.

Ballard sees the merger as a positive thing that will make for a stronger conference and bring in more television revenue, which he says will ultimately benefit the universities involved. Ballard says while the teams will be spread across the country, they'll play in regional divisions, so travel won't be extensive.

The students we talked with Tuesday were positive about the new conference, including women's basketball player Katie Pashcal.

"I think it would be a great thing for us to join a new conference. I think it would give us the experience to play not better, but new teams than we've been playing and I think it would be a good change for us."

Ballard says the presidents and chancellors will have follow-up meetings over the next six months to fully develop the new conference's operational issues.

DALLAS, Texas - Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities, including East Carolina University, met Sunday to discuss future conference membership plans and agreed to work on forming a new intercollegiate athletics association that would begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year.

This presidentially-led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics, and ensuring competitive fairness.

"We are very encouraged by the teamwork and energy exhibited among all the presidents and chancellors involved in our recent discussions," ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said. "I'm in strong support of the commitment of the new conference to the academic success of the student athlete."

In addition to East Carolina, universities involved in the discussions were the U.S. Air Force Academy, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Colorado State University, Fresno State, Tulane, University of Hawaii, Marshall University, University of Nevada-Reno, University of New Mexico, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Texas-El Paso, University of Tulsa and University of Wyoming. With the exception of Hawaii as a football-only member, the participation would involve all sports.

"The statement from the Chancellors'/Presidents' (CEO's) meeting is encouraging and indicative that the merger is moving forward as expected," ECU Athletic Director Terry Holland said. "That is good news for all involved and we are looking forward to the continuing discussions."

The structure of the new conference will likely include:
•Membership of 18 to 24 universities
•National scope from the Atlantic Seaboard to Hawaii
•Championship football game format that includes semifinal match-ups
•Championship basketball tournament
•Regular season scheduling in divisions
•NCAA FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) affiliation
•Mechanisms to emphasize and improve academic standards and fiscal responsibility

The presidents and chancellors will have follow-up meetings over the next six months to fully develop the operational issues essential to the formation of the association.

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