Sep 10, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Kennesaw State Owls running back Yesiah Clemons (37) reacts after a play in the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Kennesaw State to move up to FBS football, join C-USA in 2024

Kennesaw State, a large public university in the Atlanta area, will move up from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision and join Conference USA in 2024.

Kennesaw State has only played football since 2015. But it’s quickly become a power at the FCS level, with an all-time record of 63-18 entering this season and top-10 rankings at the end of four of the past five seasons.

After starting out in the Big South Conference, the Owls currently compete in the ASUN (formerly the Atlantic Sun).

Conference USA has undergone major realignment as a ripple effect of Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC and four teams being added to the Big 12 in their stead.

C-USA lost Old Dominion, Marshall and Southern Miss this academic year and are set to lose six more programs in 2023. Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston are joining as full members next year.

Kennesaw State will bring the league up to 10 football programs. The Owls will also be the 134th team in FBS, following Jacksonville State’s and Sam Houston’s pending move from FCS to FBS next year.

“Today is an important day as we formally welcome Kennesaw State University to Conference USA,” C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a news release. “The addition of this growing university continues to build upon our strong foundation, and we are excited to partner with President (Kathy) Schwaig and KSU’s leadership team to transform our membership and strategically position the conference for long-term success.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2020; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; UAB Blazers players celebrate after defeating the Marshall Thundering Herd for the Conference USA Championship at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Sun Belt-bound schools reach deal with C-USA

Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss have reached a separation agreement with Conference USA to depart for the Sun Belt this year, ESPN reported Tuesday.

The reported deal comes more than a month after C-USA threatened legal action against the schools for failing to give 14 months’ notice before leaving the conference, per league bylaws. The conference filed for arbitration, with the three schools filing for temporary injunctions against arbitration.

The three schools are on the Sun Belt football schedule for 2022. Meanwhile, C-USA will play with 11 members in 2022 and is expected to release a new schedule soon; the three schools were on C-USA’s schedule for 2022, as well.

C-USA’s football schedule had included 14 schools split into divisions of seven. The East Division is losing Marshall and Old Dominion, and the West is losing Southern Miss.

Six other current C-USA institutions — Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA — will eventually join the American Athletic Conference, but have not expressed intention to make the move in 2022.

Liberty, New Mexico State, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston will eventually join C-USA.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd defensive back Micah Abraham (6) breaks up a pass intended for Old Dominion Monarchs quarterback Stone Smartt (4) during the third quarter at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Miss, Marshall, ODU to leave C-USA in June

Southern Miss, Marshall and Old Dominion confirmed Friday they are leaving Conference USA at the conclusion of this academic year.

The schools issued nearly identical statements, alluding to a stalemate with C-USA over an exit plan. The three said their conference membership will end effective June 30.

Each school had an agreement to join the Sun Belt Conference before July 1, 2023. Their announcements did not indicate whether their membership will begin with the 2022-23 academic year.

“The University first advised Conference USA in early December 2021 of the University’s plans to terminate its membership in June 2022. Since then, the University has clearly and consistently repeated its intentions to the conference,” read the statement from Southern Miss. “The University has from the outset expressed its desire to work with Conference USA to achieve an amicable separation, including offering to cooperate to ensure that all remaining conference members had complete competitive schedules for those sports in which the University competes. Conference USA has so far refused to discuss any such arrangement with the University.

“The Conference’s unwillingness to discuss the concept of separation this year creates confusion and doubt for all concerned. The remaining members of Conference USA deserve certainty about their schedules as they plan for competition next year. For their sake, the University makes public its intent.”

The Sun Belt will have 16 member schools with the three additions. James Madison also is entering the league, which also will consist of Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Little Rock, Louisiana, UL-Monroe, South Alabama, UTSA, Texas State and Troy.

Conference USA remains in flux. Also departing are Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA, which are heading to the American Athletic Conference. Liberty, New Mexico State, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston are set to join.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2021; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders wide receiver Izaiah Gathings (2) celebrates after scoring against the Connecticut Huskies in the first half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Middle Tennessee won’t leave C-USA for MAC

Middle Tennessee State has decided to remain in Conference USA after all.

The school was mulling a jump to the Mid-American Conference after C-USA lost eight members to realignment. But with four recent additions to C-USA beginning in 2023, the university located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has decided to stay put.

“With the addition of four new members, C-USA offers a strong footprint in the South and Southwest, providing opportunities to develop new regional rivalries, while staying connected to traditional opponents that our fans want,” MTSU president Sidney McPhee said in the statement. “Working with our four remaining members, as well as our new partners, Conference USA is poised to rebrand itself as a premier conference in the Group of 5.”

Joining C-USA 2023 will be Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston State.

The conference lost Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA to the American Athletic Conference, while Marshall and Southern Miss are joining the Sun Belt.

Conference USA’s Western Kentucky is still reportedly considering moving to the MAC.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd wide receiver Shadeed Ahmed (0) celebrates with fans after catching a touchdown pass during the first overtime against the Old Dominion Monarchs at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall indicates it is leaving Conference USA for Sun Belt

Marshall is the latest school to commit to joining the Sun Belt Conference.

The athletic department released a video on its Twitter account on Friday indicating it was joining the league.

“Let’s have some fun! #RiseAsOne|@SunBelt,” the text above the video said.

Marshall will become the ninth school to depart Conference USA in the latest round of league shuffling.

The addition of Marshall will give the Sun Belt 15 full members, including 13 for football.

Earlier this week, the Sun Belt formally announced the additions of Southern Miss and Old Dominion. Both those schools will depart C-USA and join the Sun Belt no later than July 1, 2023

The Sun Belt also has held discussions with FCS power James Madison, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Six other C-USA schools — Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA — are leaving to join the American Athletic Conference in 2023 at the earliest.

The defections leave C-USA with five members: Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky.

C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said last week that the league is seeking new members with some possibly coming from the FCS level.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA; Southern Miss Golden Eagles quarterback Chandler Pittman (12) looks to throw a pass in the second half against the UAB Blazers at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Southern Miss to join Sun Belt, leave C-USA

The latest domino to fall in the current era of college football realignment appears to benefit the Sun Belt Conference.

Southern Miss has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt and leave behind Conference USA starting in 2023, multiple reports said Friday.

The Golden Eagles likely won’t be the final team to move. Old Dominion, Marshall and James Madison are considering joining the Sun Belt, Sports Illustrated and the Action Network reported.

The move comes after the American Athletic Conference pilfered six C-USA teams this week — restocking after it lost Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to Big 12 invitations.

James Madison is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and plays football at the FCS level, where it consistently has competed for national titles in recent years.

Old Dominion and Marshall, like Southern Miss, belong to C-USA. Should they leave as rumored, C-USA would be down to five members, potentially crippling the league.

Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said the league is actively seeking replacements.

“We have a strong core of members to build around and are continuing to work to strengthen our league as we move forward,” MacLeod said. “There are several institutions interested in joining Conference USA, both across FBS and FCS, some of whom we’ve already met with in person. Every step we take will be deliberate, strategically sound, and intentional.

“We will take the necessary time to add future members that will be the best fit from an athletic and academic standpoint and allow prospective institutions time to complete their process. We continue to believe in the regional concept and will look to incorporate that into our structure and scheduling. There are certainly many questions out there, but a great deal is happening behind the scenes. When appropriate, we will release more information, though out of respect for those involved, we will continue to operate outside of the public space.”

Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA are the six C-USA schools who’ve agreed to join the American in 2023 at the earliest.

The other members of C-USA are Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) raises the championship trophy following the American Athletic Conference championship football game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bearcats won, 27-24.

Aac Championship Tulsa Golden Hurricane At Cincinnati Bearcats Football Dec 19

Six C-USA schools accept invitations to join AAC

The American Athletic Conference announced Thursday that six schools from Conference USA have accepted invitations to join the AAC.

No timetable has been set Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA to move to the AAC, but ESPN reported that the 2023-24 season would be the earliest date.

The realignment will boost the AAC membership to 14 teams in football and basketball, while leaving C-USA with eight members.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade. We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams.”

The AAC is replacing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, which were all accepted to join the Big 12 last month.

Conference USA rules call for a departure fee of around $3 million per school, according to Yahoo Sports.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; A detailed view of a football on the field during the second half between the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: 6 C-USA schools apply to join AAC

Six Conference USA teams are bidding to join the American Athletic Conference, according to multiple media reports.

Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA filed applications to the AAC, ESPN reported Tuesday. News of the six schools’ interest in changing conference was initially reported Monday by Yahoo Sports.

The prospective moves continue the shifting landscape of college sports conferences. The latest round of moves began when Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

The Big 12 subsequently agreed to add Cincinnati, Houston and UCF (all from the AAC) as well as BYU (a football independent but a member of the West Coast Conference in most other sports).

The AAC currently features 11 football schools, but the departure of the three universities to the Big 12 plus the potential addition of six Conference USA schools would bring the membership to 14. The AAC has Navy as a football-only program, while Wichita State is an AAC member for most sports but does not field a football team.

According to ESPN, the six potential new AAC programs would join the conference no sooner than the 2023-24 season. In addition, if the AAC doesn’t agree to a waiver of its requirement for 27 months’ notice for exiting programs, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF would remain in the conference through the 2023-24 season.

Conference USA rules call for a departure fee of around $3 million per school, according to Yahoo Sports.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte 49ers head coach Will Healy during the first quarter of the game against the Charlotte 49ers at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Hilltoppers, 49ers try again as C-USA juggles schedule

Will the third time be the charm for Western Kentucky and Charlotte?

Conference USA announced Wednesday that the Hilltoppers and 49ers will try once again to play this season. The game, originally scheduled for Nov. 28 before being moved to and then postponed again on Tuesday, is set for a noon ET start on Sunday in Charlotte.

The announcement comes after FIU canceled its scheduled Saturday game at Charlotte due to COVID-19 issues within the Panthers’ program.

Elsewhere in the conference, Middle Tennessee’s game at UAB set for Saturday has been canceled, per a Middle Tennessee statement.

The league said matchups for the final week of the regular season — Dec. 11 and 12 — will be determined “no later” than Sunday.

“The most important aspect is the health and safety of our student-athletes and we felt it was not fair to them or our program to be able to play this game,” said MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro in a statement. “We were down to 49 scholarship players and would also have to play guys coming right off injuries. That is not a situation we want to put them in.

“It’s a disappointing day for our program and fan base, but this is an unfortunate outcome of the pandemic. Our players have done a remarkable job all year in navigating all these uncertainties.”

The schedule for Charlotte (2-3, 2-1 C-USA) has been in constant flux this season. Games against North Carolina, Georgia State, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, Gardner-Webb and Marshall were either canceled or postponed. The 49ers have not played since a 53-19 loss at Duke on Oct. 31.

Sunday’s game is the last one on the schedule for the Hilltoppers (4-6, 3-3).

FIU (0-5, 0-3) has also seen its schedule wracked by postponements and cancellations. The Panthers have lost games at UTEP and now at Charlotte, and also lost a home game against Louisiana Tech.

FIU is scheduled to host No. 21 Marshall (7-0, 4-0) on Friday, Dec. 11.

–Field Level Media