Conference USA Celebrates 20th Anniversary
By ODU Athletics
IRVING, Texas -- Conference USA will celebrate its 20th season by recognizing some of the top highlights and accomplishments from 1995-2014 with the launch of a #CUSA20 campaign through the league's social media outlets on Twitter (@Conference_USA), Facebook (ConferenceUSA) and Instagram (ConferenceUSA). This will give fans the chance to learn about the storied history of greats, as well as look to the future and see "Who's Next?"
Additionally, special programming will be available on the C-USA Digital Network throughout the year.
Conference USA has undergone transformations throughout its two decades, but the commitment to excellence, integrity, leadership and its student athletes in athletics, academics and community is unwavering.
This season, C-USA will enjoy a far-reaching fan base with its 14 members in 10 states: Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, UTSA and WKU. The combined population of these school markets is approximately 30 million.
Since beginning competition in 1995, Conference USA teams have combined for 83 bowl appearances in football, 100 NCAA Tournament appearances in basketball, including three Final Fours, 60 NCAA baseball appearances, including six College World Series berths, 71 NCAA soccer tournament appearances, including four trips to the College Cup, and 35 individual national champions in track and field and cross country.
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).
Success is not limited to athletic achievement, however, as 190 Conference USA student-athletes have garnered Academic All-America honors, 653 have achieved academic all-district laurels and thousands of student-athletes have earned their college degrees.
The league promotes the scholar-athlete ideal, honoring outstanding achievement with numerous conference-sponsored academic 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 $4,000 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.
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 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. The membership is at 14 institutions with WKU joining the league on July 1, 2014.