C-USA & Mountain West To Disband, Form New Conference

DALLAS (AP) -- Members of Conference USA and current and future members of the Mountain West are on their way to forming a new conference that will begin in 2013.

The 16 schools announced their plans Monday.

"This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said in statement. "We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture."

The new conference will likely include 18-24 schools, be split into divisions and not only have a football championship game but also semifinal games, and will hold a conference basketball tournament.

School leaders said they plan to complete work on the new league in six months.

In October, Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky and Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson announced the two leagues were working to merge their football operations starting in 2013.

At the time, both commissioners left open the possibility that the football relationship could grow into something bigger.

Since then four C-USA members - SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida - have announced they will join the Big East in 2013. Boise State and San Diego State from the Mountain West also announced they would be joining the Big East for football and switching their other sports to new conferences. The Mountain West also lost TCU to the Big 12.

The new plan is for Conference USA and the Mountain West to join forces and start over. That would allow the new league to negotiate new television deals.

Nowhere in the release are the names of the conferences mentioned, just the schools involved. They are:

- Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, New Mexico and Wyoming, which all currently compete in the Mountain West.

- Alabama-Birmingham, East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Texas-El Paso, Tulane and Tulsa, which all currently compete in Conference USA

- Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii, which all currently compete in the Western Athletic Conference, but are set to join the Mountain West in 2012.

All the schools except Hawaii will compete in all sports in the new conference. Hawaii will be a football only member.

"Today's announcement is both a culmination of several months of discussion between the presidents and chancellors of these 16 universities and an historic starting point to forge a ground-breaking, new conference," Thompson said in a statement. "There are a myriad of details and moving parts that will be finalized in the weeks and months ahead, but there is positive momentum toward long-term stability and a tremendous opportunity for all involved."

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  • by DS1 on Feb 14, 2012 at 03:15 PM
    They can call it ECUSA/Even Crappier USA!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 14, 2012 at 06:51 PM in reply to DS1
      You really need to find a life or a hobby. All this ECU bashing by you is pathological. In fact, ECU is starting to define you DS1. I just love the irony.
  • by TerryEU2 Location: Greenville, NC on Feb 14, 2012 at 03:12 PM
    Why not call this new Conference the Trans America Conference?
  • by GvillePir8 Location: Eastern NC on Feb 14, 2012 at 10:46 AM
    I like this approach. A conference with a national market, 4 divisions, 12 games, a playoff and a championship. The BCS (at least as we know it) is dead thanks to all the conference realignment. Travel worries are there, but should be minimized by having 4 divisions.
  • by Dark Horse on Feb 13, 2012 at 07:15 PM
    This idea stinks!!! Who would agree to this nonsensical conference?
  • by DS1 on Feb 13, 2012 at 04:26 PM
    GREAT! One great big conference full of really bad teams!
  • by Kane on Feb 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
    So instead of El Paso being a long trip, ECU will have to make several long trips. This is bound to cost millions of dollars.
  • by Chris Location: Greenville on Feb 13, 2012 at 02:03 PM
    Yay , a new conference for ECU to get creamed in.
  • by Doug Location: Greenville on Feb 13, 2012 at 01:44 PM
    Call it the "Red-Headed Step-Child Conference."
  • by Jon Location: Raleigh on Feb 13, 2012 at 01:36 PM
    What's this conference going to be called? The Reject Conference? ECU is better off joining the Sun Belt Conference (the other conference of teams nobody else wants). At least they wouldn't have to travel as far and as often.
  • by Old Pirate Location: Eastern NC on Feb 13, 2012 at 01:26 PM
    Two divisions, so ECU will play all the eastern teams and only one of the western teams each year in football. Saves money for ECU and with 5 time zones being available for TV contracts the amount of money ECU gets from TV will go up drastically. Early word is that the basketball tournament will be held in Vegas most years. That's a $250 round trip ticket from RDU generally, so a nice bonus when Lebo's team starts to flourish. This is a good thing for ECU especially with the AQ status of the BCS going away within 2 years.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 13, 2012 at 01:47 PM in reply to Old Pirate
      Ehh, try $400 ish round trip - just booked tickets after watching prices for 2 months.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Feb 13, 2012 at 04:33 PM in reply to
        I suspect the teams will get a reduced price
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Feb 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM in reply to Old Pirate
      I agree Old Pirate. Let's not knock this thing until we try it. It certainly looks like the best option at this point.
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