The Charlotte 49ers will have some new company in Conference USA. That’s because Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference will join the league in all sports beginning in 2014. They’ll be replacing ECU and Tulane, which announced yesterday their plans to join the Big East (Tulane in all sports, ECU in football only, with a conference to be determined for its Olympic sports).C-USA didn’t take too long to replace the lost schools; their selections aren’t too terribly surprising. MTSU was thought to be joining the conference much earlier, while FAU‘s name popped up as a possibility shortly after the news of yesterday. While it doesn’t completely take the sting out of the ECU loss, the two schools make sense to the conference from a geographical standpoint. They’ll benefit from a nice, mid-sized market (Nashville) as well as another Florida school, as FAU reunites with FIU, who is preparing its own previously-planned move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA itself in July (word is they lobbied for FAU to consider joining C-USA once this round of realignment started).
As we said yesterday, the realignment train isn’t done rolling yet. Louisville, earlier today, was unanimously approved to join the ACC. The question is, will Charlotte stay put or seek to spurn Conference USA altogether and seek a new home? Regardless, it will be an interesting next few days in the NCAA.
UPDATE, 5:29pm: Online sources are reporting that Western Kentucky, also from the Sun Belt, along with the WAC’s New Mexico State, are also set to join Conference USA. No formal announcements or reports have been made, though.
UPDATE, 6pm: Sun-Sentinel columnist Dieter Kurtenbach has tweeted that no moves by WKU and NMSU will be made just yet: