Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Source: C-USA board to talk merger
By Andy Katz
Conference USA's board of directors will meet later this week to discuss the possibility of a full-scale merger with the Mountain West Conference, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
The prospect of a merger was already on the meeting agenda, even before C-USA member Memphis was on the verge of joining the Big East, the source said.
Memphis was officially invited into the Big East on Wednesday and has accepted the invitation. The school will join in 2013.
In the past year, C-USA members Houston, SMU and Central Florida accepted invitations to join the Big East in 2013-14.
That, along with Memphis' pending departure, would leave C-USA with eight members: Southern Miss, Tulsa, Marshall, Rice, UAB, Tulane, East Carolina and UTEP.
The Mountain West is adding Nevada and Fresno State from the Western Athletic Conference for all sports and Hawaii in football. But the MWC is losing San Diego State to the Big East in football and the Big West for all other sports; Boise State to the Big East in football and the WAC in other sports; and TCU to the Big 12.
That means in 2013-14, the MWC would have eight football members, including Hawaii, and seven in all sports: UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, Fresno State and Nevada.
A merger between C-USA and the MWC could consist of a conference with its current 2013-14 membership of 15 in all sports and 16 in football.
On Wednesday, Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said he's not expecting to lose any more schools to the Big East.
"Based upon my conversations with commissioner (John) Marinatto, the Big East has now completed its future membership plan. If this is true, it is very helpful as we can now move forward with our plans in a more stable national environment," he said. "We hope that the other conferences appreciate the value of stability in intercollegiate athletics and higher education."
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.