MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) -- Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic will join Conference USA, leaving the Sun Belt as part of the ever-changing college landscape.
Conference USA announced the addition of its new members Thursday, just two days after Tulane and East Carolina left Conference USA for the Big East.
When the two schools join Conference USA by 2014, the league will consist of 14 schools in 10 states.
Middle Tennessee President Sidney McPhee says universities have been in "constant movement" to align themselves. The Blue Raiders have won eight all-sports Sun Belt trophies in 12 years and McPhee says their desire is to compete with the best.
Florida Atlantic athletic director Pat Chun calls it a "momentous day." The move puts the Owls in the league with rival FIU, which joins C-USA in 2013.
Statement from Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson
“While I am disappointed that Middle Tennessee State University and Florida Atlantic University have elected to depart the Sun Belt Conference, the SBC is still very well positioned for the future and I remain very optimistic that the momentum that has been created in the past six months will continue to grow. The continuing 10 members of the SBC are committed to excellence and I am confident that the SBC will take advantage of these latest changes in the landscape. As I have stated many times in the past six months, the SBC will be a major player in the future, especially within its geographic footprint.
As for future members, there are several outstanding universities that have indicated interest in joining the SBC. While we have conducted research on these universities in the past six months, we will now focus on identifying the ones that will be the best “fit” for the conference and the ones that will contribute immediately in achieving our goal of being the best of the FBS conferences that currently do not receive automatic qualification into the BCS.
The future is still very BRIGHT for the SBC and I look forward to working with the leadership of the SBC in the coming days, weeks and months to continue the growth and development of this outstanding athletic conference.”
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