It's Official! Blue Raiders are C-USA members
Sam's Sports Grill is the official celebration headquartersJuly 1, 2013 · @MTAthletics
MURFREESBORO - After 214 days since the initial announcement, it's finally official. Middle Tennessee is a full-fledged member of Conference USA following 13 years in the Sun Belt Conference.
As proud members of the SBC, the Blue Raiders dominated the conference by winning nine All-Sports trophies and 58 conference championships.
MT, which joined the Sun Belt on July 1, 2000, leaves the SBC with a league-best 50 conference football wins, while also ranking first in victories over automatic qualifying conferences. Other notable milestones in the MT-Sun Belt partnership:
- MT had four Overall Sun Belt Athletes of the Year and 40 Coach of the Year winners.
- In men's basketball, Head Coach Kermit Davis finished as the SBC's all-time winningest coach, while the women's basketball program won more than 80 percent of its conference games.
- The Blue Raiders also played on national television 46 times from 2004 until now.
Employees and owners of more than 50 businesses and restaurants will be wearing specially designed tee shirts with the inaugural C-USA logo today throughout Murfreesboro; the official celebration headquarters will be at Sam's Sports Grill with Director of Athletics Chris Massaro, Rick Stockstill, Kermit Davis, and Rick Insell, and a plane flyover from 11 AM - 2 PM and again from 4-6 PM will advertise the move to C-USA.
Football players will going around town distributing posters and schedule cards, two to three players will be located at Reeves-Sain on Memorial from 10 AM - 11 AM signing autographs and providing information on the move to Conference USA, and another group with be stationed at Chick-Fil-A from 1 PM - 2 PM.
The C-USA membership includes Charlotte, East Carolina, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UTEP, and UTSA. The league office is located in Irving, Texas.
On September 21, the Blue Raiders will have their first competition against a Conference USA opponent when football travels to Florida Atlantic. Six days later, soccer hosts UAB and volleyball travels to Rice. The first C-USA football game at home is October 5 against East Carolina.
From its beginning in 1995, Conference USA's dedication to excellence has been the league's guiding principle and remains a common thread today and for a promising future. Throughout the changes during the C-USA history, the conference has held onto its strong foundation that reflects the league's national presence. These 16 schools have compiled numerous athletic and academic achievements. Additionally, the C-USA footprint will grow by nearly 20 percent, while providing the geography that allows for a divisional scheduling model that will be beneficial to the student-athletes, fan-friendly and cost effective.
Conference USA sponsors competition in 20 sports - nine for men (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and indoor and outdoor track and field) and 11 for women (basketball, cross country, golf, rowing, softball, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field and volleyball).
The league sponsors numerous academic awards, including the Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Commissioner's Academic Medal, indicative of outstanding achievement in the classroom, in addition to sport specific All-Academic teams.
C-USA annually awards 12 postgraduate scholarships, along with the Sport Academic Award, Scholar Athletes of the Year and the Institutional Academic Excellence Award. Conference USA also added a Spirit of Service Award, recognizing student-athletes three times a year for a combination of significant community service efforts, good academic standing and participation in their elected sport.
Success on the playing field
Conference USA performers have achieved great success in competition, placing the league among the top conferences in the nation.
- 72 teams have earned bowl bids
- Member of the Bowl Championship Series
- Bowl tie-ins with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Military Bowl, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl
- Consistently rated as one of the top basketball leagues in the country
- 108 postseason teams (50 NCAA, 42 NIT, 8 CBI, 8 CIT)
- One National Championship title game appearance
- Three Final Four teams
- Seven Elite Eight NCAA Tournament teams
- One NIT Champion and four NIT semifinalists
- Inaugural CBI Champion
- CIT Champion
- 48 NCAA Tournament appearances
- 43 WNIT appearances
- One team in the NCAA Sweet 16
- Two WNIT semifinalists
- One WBI Champion
- 58 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 last 12 seasons
In addition, 37 volleyball teams, 67 men's and women's soccer teams and 39 softball teams have earned NCAA Tournament bids. C-USA has sent three 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 Sweet 16. The league has also had nine 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 700 NCAA appearances.
Success off the field
C-USA institutions are among the nation's best in academic performance among 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 18 years, 176 student-athletes earned national Capital One Academic All-America honors, while 618 were named All-District. In addition, more than 26,000 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 and ESPN. The multi-tiered selection process that is rooted in partnering with all three networks has substantially increased the number of national and regional appearances for football, men's and women's basketball, and all other conference sports.
As one the largest FBS conferences in 2013, C-USA membership will include institutions in 12 of the Top 65 television markets, eight in the Top 40 and four in the Top 25 media markets according to Nielson. C-USA home markets next year will include more than 14.5 million TV households, a 43 percent increase from a year 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 that number just keeps growing. Monthly and yearly subscriptions offer 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 16 members in nine states and a combined area population of nearly 17 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 included 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 added 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 members of Conference USA in 2005.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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Apr 15, 2014: 3rd Annual Raiders Choice Awards set for May 1
Apr 14, 2014: Group of MT Athletes to visit Dominican Republic next month
Apr 11, 2014: 35 Raiders named C-USA Academic Medal winners
Apr 11, 2014: 159 student-athletes on Commissioner's Honor Roll