Conference USA

U.S. college sports conference

Conference USA, officially abbreviated CUSA, is a group of college sports teams that play each other on the NCAA Division I level. It was formed in 1995 when the Great Midwest Conference and Metro Conference merged, and has added several members since then. Most of the new members have come from either the Western Athletic Conference or the Sun Belt Conference (SBC). From 2005 to 2014, it also lost many members, mostly to the original Big East Conference and its football-playing offshoot, the American Athletic Conference (The American). In a later wave of conference changes in the early 2020s, CUSA lost three members to the SBC in 2022 and six to The American in 2023. CUSA responded to these later moves by adding seven new members, with four joining in July 2023, one joining in July 2024, and two to join in July 2025.

The conference sends several teams to bowl games every year, including the Liberty Bowl and New Orleans Bowl.

Memphis (now a member of The American) has been the most successful men's basketball team in the conference, reaching the national championship game in 2008. (However, the NCAA later took Memphis's wins from that season away because a Memphis player, namely Derrick Rose, had not been eligible to play.)[1]


University of Tulsa playing basketball against the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Conference USA now has 10 "full members" which play most of their sports in the league; Liberty (which joined in 2023) is the only private school. Future member Delaware (joining in 2025) is defined as a "privately governed, state-assisted" school.

Before 2022, the schools were split into East and West Divisions for some sports, most notably football; this allowed the football division winners to play a conference championship game. The divisional split ended with the loss of three members to the SBC. The football championship game now features the top two teams in the conference standings.

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joined
Florida International University (FIU) Miami, Florida[a] 1965 Public Panthers 2013[b]
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama 1883 Public Gamecocks 2023[c]
Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, Georgia[d] 1963 Public Owls 2024
Liberty University Lynchburg, Virginia 1971 Private Flames &
Lady Flames
Louisiana Tech University Ruston, Louisiana 1894 Public Bulldogs &
Lady Techsters
Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, Tennessee 1911 Public Blue Raiders 2005
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico 1888 Public Aggies 2023
Sam Houston State University
(Sam Houston)
Huntsville, Texas 1879 Public Bearkats 2023
University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) El Paso, Texas 1914 Public Miners 2005
Western Kentucky University (WKU) Bowling Green, Kentucky 1906 Public Hilltoppers &
Lady Toppers
  1. The FIU campus has a Miami mailing address, but lies in the unincorporated Miami-Dade County community of Westchester.
  2. FIU was a member in men's soccer only from 2005 to 2013.
  3. Jacksonville State joined CUSA beach volleyball in 2022, a year before it became a full member.
  4. The KSU campus has a Kennesaw mailing address, but is in unincorporated Cobb County.
  5. WKU was a member in women's swimming and diving only in the 2013–14 school year.

Future members


CUSA will add two members in 2025.

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joining Former
University of Delaware Newark, Delaware 1746 Private–public hybrid Fightin' Blue Hens 2025 CAA
Missouri State University Springfield, Missouri 1905 Public Bears & Lady Bears 2025 MVC

Associate members


CUSA now has 12 "associate members"—schools that are full members of another conference who play select sports in CUSA. One plays baseball, four play women's beach volleyball, six others compete in bowling (which the NCAA runs only for women), and one competes in both beach volleyball and bowling. Most of these schools became associate members in 2023, when CUSA expanded its beach volleyball membership[2] and added bowling as a sponsored sport. CUSA added bowling by absorbing the Southland Bowling League, a single-sport conference founded by, but separate from, the all-sports Southland Conference.[3]

One of the current associates, Missouri State, will become a full member in 2025.

School Location Founded Type Nickname CUSA
Joined Main Conference
Arkansas State University Jonesboro, Arkansas 1909 Public Red Wolves Bowling 2023 Sun Belt
Dallas Baptist University Dallas, Texas 1898 Private Patriots Baseball 2022 Lone Star
(Division II)
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1961 Public Owls Beach volleyball 2023[a] American
Missouri State University Springfield, Missouri 1905 Public Beach Bears Beach volleyball 2023 MVC
(CUSA in 2025)
Stephen F. Austin State University (Stephen F. Austin) Nacogdoches, Texas 1923 Public Ladyjacks Bowling 2023 WAC
Tarleton State University (Tarleton) Stephenville, Texas 1899 Public Texans Beach volleyball 2023 WAC
Tulane University New Orleans, Louisiana 1834 Private Green Wave Beach volleyball 2022 American
Bowling 2023
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham, Alabama 199 Public Blazers Beach volleyball 2023[a] American
Valparaiso University Valparaiso, Indiana 1859 Private Beacons Bowling 2023 MVC
Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee 1873 Private Commodores Bowling 2023 SEC
Wichita State University Wichita, Kansas 1895 Public Shockers Bowling 2024 American
Youngstown State University Youngstown, Ohio 1908 Public Penguins Bowling 2023 Horizon
  1. 1.0 1.1 Measured from FAU's and UAB's move to the American Athletic Conference.

Former full members


No fewer than 23 schools have left CUSA since it was founded. Of these schools, 11 are now members of the American Athletic Conference. Three others had been in The American before joining the Big 12 Conference in 2023, and another left The American for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2024.

School Location Founded Type Nickname Joined Left Current Conference
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte) Charlotte, North Carolina 1946 Public 49ers 1995, 2013[a] 2023 The American
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 1819 Public Bearcats 1995 2005 Big 12
DePaul University Chicago, Illinois 1898 Private Blue Demons 1995 2005 Big East
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 1907 Public Pirates 2001[b] 2014 The American
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1961 Public Owls 2013 2023 The American
University of Houston Houston, Texas 1907 Public Cougars 1996[c] 2013 Big 12
University of Louisville Louisville, Kentucky 1798 Public Cardinals 1995 2005 ACC
Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia 1837 Public Thundering Herd 2005 2022 Sun Belt
Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1881 Private Golden Eagles 1995 2005 Big East
University of Memphis Memphis, Tennessee 1912 Public Tigers 1995 2013 The American
University of North Texas Denton, Texas 1890 Public Mean Green 2013 2023 The American
Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia 1930 Public Monarchs 2013[d] 2022 Sun Belt
Rice University Houston, Texas 1912 Private Owls 2005 2023 The American
Saint Louis University St. Louis, Missouri 1818 Private Billikens 1995 2005 Atlantic 10
Southern Methodist University (SMU) University Park, Texas 1911 Private Mustangs 2005 2013 ACC
University of South Florida Tampa, Florida 1956 Public Bulls 1995 2005 The American
University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1910 Public Golden Eagles 1995 2022 Sun Belt
Texas Christian University (TCU)[e] Fort Worth, Texas 1873 Private Horned Frogs 2001 2005 Big 12
Tulane University[f] New Orleans, Louisiana 1834 Private Green Wave 1995 2014 The American
University of Tulsa Tulsa, Oklahoma 1894 Private Golden Hurricane 2005 2014 The American
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham, Alabama 1969 Public Blazers 1995 2023 The American
University of Central Florida (UCF) Orlando, Florida 1963 Public Knights 2005 2013 Big 12
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) San Antonio, Texas 1969 Public Roadrunners 2013 2023 The American
  1. Charlotte left in 2005 for the Atlantic 10 Conference and came back in 2013.
  2. Before joining CUSA, East Carolina had been a football-only member since 1997.
  3. Houston was a founding member of CUSA in 1995, but did not start play until 1996. It was committed to playing in the final season of its old league, the Southwest Conference.
  4. Before becoming a full member in 2013, Old Dominion was an affiliate in men's golf, women's golf, rowing, men's tennis, and women's tennis in 2012–13. Its football team did not join CUSA until 2014.
  5. TCU returned to CUSA as a beach volleyball member in 2023.
  6. Tulane returned to CUSA as a beach volleyball member in 2022, and added bowling to its CUSA membership in 2023.

Former associate members


In addition to the former full members, 21 other schools have been associate members in the past, but have moved their CUSA sports elsewhere. Most notably, the United States Military Academy, more often called "Army" in a sports context, was a football member from 1996 to 2005 (final CUSA season in 2004).


  1. Garci, Marlen (August 19, 2009). "NCAA vacates Memphis' '07–08 season record, Final Four run". USA Today. Gannett Company, Inc. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  2. "BVB: C-USA Adds TCU, Tarleton State and Missouri State as Affiliate Members for Beach Volleyball" (Press release). Conference USA. May 11, 2023. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  3. "Conference USA to Add Bowling for 2023-24 Season" (Press release). Conference USA. May 10, 2023. Retrieved May 15, 2023.