The Charlotte 49ers ended their tenure in Atlantic 10 men’s soccer by hosting last year’s conference championship. It will begin with them hosting this year’s Conference USA championship. That was one of many bits of news coming out of C-USA’s spring meetings, which concluded today.
Last year’s C-USA men’s soccer championship was held at West Campus Field in Birmingham, Alabama–ironically, it was UAB, one of four conference teams to make it to the NCAA tournament, that fell to Charlotte 3-2 in the first round only days later at Transamerica Field.
C-USA definitely isn’t a shabby men’s soccer conference; all four of their NCAA teams–conference champ and Elite 8 participant Tulsa (14) and at-large selections Kentucky (31), SMU (34) and UAB (40) each had a RPI of 40 or lower at year’s end; Memphis (64) South Carolina (68), Marshall (73) and UCF (80) missed the field but still ranked fairly decently. (The lowest ranked team, FIU, was 125; in comparison, seven A-10 teams were sub-125 and one–Fordham–was just two rungs above at 123.)
As far as the newcomers, New Mexico, which will join C-USA as an affiliate member in men’s soccer this fall (since the Mountain West sponsors the sport for women, but not men), had an RPI of 13; Old Dominion, coming over from the CAA in all sports, was 28; Charlotte finished at 16 last year. On the lower end of the incoming teams: former Sun Belt team FAU (197). It definitely makes up for the pending losses of Memphis, Tulsa, UCF and SMU, who are headed for the American Athletic (Memphis, SMU and UCF in 2013 and Tulsa in 2014). By the way, the top seven teams make it in, up from six last year.
–In basketball news, the conference announced that it was expanding the field of qualifiers for the conference championship to include all teams and expanding to five days. This year’s tournament will be hosted by UTEP at the Don Haskins Center, but don’t be surprised to see Charlotte in the rotation relatively soon. Also, men’s basketball teams will play with travel partners, with conference games will be played on Thursdays/Sundays (men) and Wednesdays/Saturdays (women). It’s a slight departure from the Wednesday/Saturday (men) and Wednesday/Sunday (women) scheduling the A-10 employed.
–Other fall sports will increase its number of qualifying teams in response to the larger conference: volleyball will qualify 12, up from eight; women’s soccer will now qualify 10, also up from eight. MTSU and Rice will host those two sports’ conference championships, respectively.
–Here’s the complete release from Conference USA outlining all of the changes that will be made beginning next season.