Conference USA enters its third decade in 2016-17 as it continues to compete and promote the success of its student-athletes. The league has adapted to the ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics over its first 20 seasons, but the commitment to excellence, integrity, leadership and its student athletes in competition, academics and community is unwavering.
Conference USA enjoys a far-reaching fan base with its 14 members: Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, UTSA and WKU.
Debuting in 1995, Conference USA teams have combined for 88 bowl appearances in football, 102 NCAA Tournament appearances in basketball, including three Final Fours, 63 NCAA baseball appearances including six College World Series berths, 79 NCAA soccer tournament appearances including four trips to the College Cup, and 35 individual national champions in track and field and cross country.
Success is not limited to athletic achievement, however, as 198 Conference USA student-athletes have garnered Academic All-America honors, 691 have achieved academic all-district laurels and thousands of student-athletes have earned a college degree.
Conference USA sponsors competition in 19 sports - nine for men (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field) and 10 for women (basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball).
The league promotes the scholar-athlete ideal, honoring outstanding academic achievement with numerous conference-sponsored awards, including the Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Commissioner's Academic Medal as well as sport-specific All-Academic teams.
C-USA annually awards postgraduate scholarships, along with the Sport Academic Awards, Scholar-Athletes of the Year and the Institutional Academic Excellence Award. Additionally, Conference USA presents a Spirit of Service Award three times each year, recognizing student-athletes who excel on the field, in the classroom and give back to the community through significant service efforts and participation.
SUCCESS ON THE PLAYING FIELD
Conference USA performers have achieved great success in competition, placing the league among the top conferences in the nation.
- 88 teams have earned bowl bids
- Eligible for the College Football Playoff
- Conference USA has 11 bowl affiliations through the 2019 season, securing a minimum of five berths annually. Conference USA has primary bowl tie-ins with the Arizona Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl, Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, Miami Beach Bowl, Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl and Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, along with secondary arrangements with the Independence Bowl and the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
- 120 postseason teams (52 NCAA, 47 NIT, 11 CBI, 10 CIT)
- One National Championship title game appearance
- Three Final Four teams
- Seven Elite Eight NCAA Tournament teams
- One NIT Champion and five NIT semifinalists
- Inaugural CBI Champion
- One CIT Championship
- 50 NCAA Tournament appearances
- 52 WNIT appearances
- One Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament team
- Three WNIT semifinalists
- One WBI Champion
- 63 NCAA appearances
- Six College World Series appearances (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2001)
- 14 Super Regional appearances
- Has produced at least four NCAA teams in nine of the past 14 seasons
In addition to the numerous NCAA Tournament berths, C-USA has sent four men's soccer teams to the NCAA College Cup, three softball teams to the Women's College World Series and three volleyball teams to the NCAA Sweet 16. The league has also had 35 national champions in NCAA track and field competition, one national champion in diving, and numerous NCAA individual and team competitors in cross country, golf, swimming, tennis, and track and field. Overall, Conference USA teams and individuals have made more than 1,900 NCAA appearances.
SUCCESS OFF THE FIELD
C-USA institutions are among the nation's best in academic performance of student-athletes, bolstered by the fact that student-athletes at league schools have a higher graduation rate than the general student population. Among C-USA's 5,000 student-athletes, there are champions off the playing field as well. In 20 years, nearly 30,000 student-athletes have been named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll or received the Commissioner's Academic Medal, indicative of outstanding achievement in the classroom.
C-USA ON TV
C-USA enjoys significant television exposure through partnerships with FOX Sports Media Group, CBS Sports Network, ESPN and American Sports Network (ASN). The multi-tiered selection process that is rooted in partnering with all four networks has substantially increased the number of national and regional appearances for football, men's and women's basketball, and all other conference sports.
C-USA membership include institutions within eight of the Top 40 media markets and four in the Top 25 according to Nielsen. C-USA home markets this year will include more than 13 million TV households, a 30 percent increase from two years ago.
C-USA DIGITAL NETWORK
The C-USA Digital Network officially launched in August of 2011. Network programming includes live streaming of non-televised events, video on demand, a weekly C-USA studio show, podcasting, regular-season and championship event highlights, and conference-produced feature stories. In its first year, 1,164 events were streamed live and 8,126 videos were posted and available on the C-USA Digital Network, and those numbers have more than doubled. Monthly and yearly subscriptions provide fans access to events offered on all of the C-USA member institution's athletic websites as well as C-USA network programming.
C-USA IN THE COMMUNITY
The conference's current footprint is concentrated with 14 members in 10 states and a combined area population of more than 30 million. With a commitment to community involvement, the conference developed several initiatives to maintain strong ties in C-USA cities, as well as with fans and alumni across the country. C-USA schools also place a priority on giving back to their communities through volunteer service with local and national organizations. Individually, student-athletes are recognized each season through the Spirit of Service award.
Conference USA has significant representation in the NCAA governance structure. The presidents of the member institutions serve as the league's Board of Directors.
A PROUD HISTORY
Conference USA was formed in 1995 and quickly emerged as one of the nation's top conferences. The conference unveiled its name, logo and commissioner April 24, 1995, in Chicago. The league's charter members were Charlotte, Cincinnati, DePaul, Houston, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, Saint Louis, Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB and USF. Eleven of the institutions began athletic participation in 1995, while Houston joined competition in the fall of 1996.
The league's headquarters were established in Chicago and, after nine years, relocated to the current office in Irving, Texas. Britton Banowsky was named Commissioner in October 2002, succeeding Mike Slive, the league's first commissioner.
C-USA added East Carolina (September, 1996) and the United States Military Academy (March, 1997) as football members. ECU began league competition in 1997; Army in 1998 and UAB began football play in 1999. The league brought in TCU and ECU (1999) for all sports and they began competition in 2001. USF started C-USA football in 2003. Marshall, Rice, SMU, Tulsa, UCF and UTEP became full-time Conference USA members for all sports in 2005.
In 2013, charter member Charlotte returned to C-USA and was joined by new members FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion and UTSA. WKU joined the league on July 1, 2014.