Conference USA

U.S. college sports conference

Conference USA, officially abbreviated C-USA, 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. 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 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 14 "full members" which play most of their sports in the league; all except Rice are public schools.

In football only, the schools are split into East and West Divisions. This allows the division winners to play a conference championship game.

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joined Football
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte) Charlotte, North Carolina 1946 Public 49ers 1995, 2013[a 1] East
Florida International University (FIU) Miami, Florida 1965 Public Panthers 2013[a 2] East
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1961 Public Owls 2013 East
Louisiana Tech University Ruston, Louisiana 1894 Public Bulldogs &
Lady Techsters
2013 West
Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia 1837 Public Thundering Herd 2005 East
Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, Tennessee 1911 Public Blue Raiders 2005 East
University of North Texas Denton, Texas 1890 Public Mean Green 2013 West
Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia 1930 Public Monarchs &
Lady Monarchs
2013[a 3] East
Rice University Houston, Texas 1912 Private Owls 2005 West
University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1910 Public Golden Eagles &
Lady Eagles
1995 West
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham, Alabama 1969 Public Blazers 1995 West
University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) El Paso, Texas 1914 Public Miners &
Lady Miners
2005 West
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) San Antonio, Texas 1969 Public Roadrunners 2013 West
Western Kentucky University (WKU) Bowling Green, Kentucky 1906 Public Hilltoppers &
Lady Toppers
2014[a 4] East
  1. Charlotte left in 2005 for the Atlantic 10 Conference and came back in 2013.
  2. FIU was a member in men's soccer only from 2005 to 2013.
  3. Old Dominion was a member in five sports in the 2012–13 school year: men's and women's golf, women's rowing, and men's and women's tennis.
  4. WKU was a member in women's swimming and diving only in the 2013–14 school year.

Associate membersEdit

C-USA now has five "associate members"—schools that are full members of another conference who play select sports in C-USA. Two play men's soccer in the conference, two others play women's beach volleyball, and one houses both sports in C-USA.

School Location Founded Type Nickname C-USA
Joined Main Conference
Coastal Carolina University Conway, South Carolina 1954 Public Chanticleers Beach volleyball,
men's soccer
2021 Sun Belt
Georgia State University Atlanta, Georgia 1913 Public Panthers Beach volleyball 2021 Sun Belt
University of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky 1865 Public Wildcats Men's soccer 2005 SEC
University of Louisiana at Monroe (Louisiana–Monroe or ULM) Monroe, Louisiana 1931 Public Warhawks Beach volleyball 2021 Sun Belt
University of South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina 1801 Public Gamecocks Men's soccer 2005 SEC

Future associate membersEdit

One school will become a C-USA associate in the near future.

School Location Founded Type Nickname C-USA
Joining Main Conference
West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia 1867 Public Mountaineers Men's soccer 2022 Big 12

Former full membersEdit

No fewer than 14 schools have left C-USA since it was founded. Most of these schools are now members of the American Athletic Conference.

School Location Founded Type Nickname Joined Left Current Conference
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 1819 Public Bearcats 1995 2005 The American
(Big 12 in 2023)
DePaul University Chicago, Illinois 1898 Private Blue Demons 1995 2005 Big East
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 1907 Public Pirates 2001[b 1] 2014 The American
University of Houston Houston, Texas 1907 Public Cougars 1996[b 2] 2013 The American
(Big 12 in 2023)
University of Louisville Louisville, Kentucky 1798 Public Cardinals 1995 2005 ACC
Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1881 Private Golden Eagles 1995 2005 Big East
University of Memphis Memphis, Tennessee 1912 Public Tigers 1995 2013 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 The American
University of South Florida Tampa, Florida 1956 Public Bulls 1995 2005 The American
Texas Christian University (TCU) Fort Worth, Texas 1873 Private Horned Frogs &
Lady Frogs
2001 2005 Big 12
Tulane University 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 Central Florida (UCF) Orlando, Florida 1963 Public Knights 2005 2013 The American
(Big 12 in 2023)
  1. Before joining C-USA, East Carolina had been a football-only member since 1997.
  2. Houston was a founding member of C-USA 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.

Former associate membersEdit

In addition to the former full members, 14 other schools have been associate members in the past, but have moved their C-USA 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 C-USA 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.