Charlotte, N.C. - The Charlotte 49ers are moving to Conference USA.
In a press conference held on-campus in the Student Union, today, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois announced that the university has accepted an invitation to join Conference USA, in all sports, beginning in the 2013-14 academic year.
"The invitation to join Conference USA is momentous in what it can do for our university," Dubois said. "As stewards of this university, it is incumbent upon us to provide the best leadership for today and the best promise for tomorrow. We have yet to take a snap on McColl-Richardson field, yet to play our first game, yet to have even our first practice - but because of who we are, because of what we've done, and because of the great community we live in - we have the unique opportunity to become one of the first programs in history to go from no football to FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) football in the minimum time allowed by NCAA regulations."
Conference USA is an FBS Conference that will provide a home for all 17 of the 49ers sports, including football. The 49ers football team will enjoy its inaugural season in 2013 as an independent FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) program and will compete in its first FBS season in Conference USA in 2015. Charlotte will be bowl eligible for football in the 2016 season. Each of the 49ers other 16 sports will begin play in Conference USA in 2013-14.
"In adding football, it was imperative that we find a conference to compete in - and today we struck gold," said Director of Athletics Judy Rose. "We not only found a conference to play in - but we found an FBS Conference. A top 10 basketball conference. A conference that includes regional rivals, and holds national attention and it's a conference that has an in-state opponent to fight for bragging rights. It's a strong conference across the board."
Conference USA, which is adding four other schools, will have a 13-team membership that includes Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UTEP and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
"We are so excited to welcome Charlotte back to Conference USA," said C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky. "It is a dynamic time in intercollegiate athletics and the leadership at the University are taking bold steps to ensure its future. We are pleased to be able to partner with them at the launch of their football program, and work together towards a common vision of excellence."
Charlotte was a member of Conference USA from 1995-96 to 2004-05. The 49ers joined the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2005-06 and will remain in that league through the 2012-13 season.
"We thank Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky and the league's presidents for this wonderful opportunity," Rose added. "We enjoyed our time in the Atlantic 10 but we needed to find a permanent home for our football program. We found Conference USA -- and it feels great."
This is the school's fifth membership in a Division I Conference. Charlotte was also a member of the Sun Belt Conference (1976-77 to 1990-91), the Metro Conference (1991-92 to 1994-95), Conference USA (1995-96 to 2004-05) and the Atlantic 10 conference (2005-06 to present).
"Being given the opportunity to move directly into an FBS Conference with our start-up football program is unprecedented," said Gene Johnson, chair of the university's Board of Trustees. "This is just something that does not happen. But this is a special time for us and special things are happening."
Conference USA makeup: Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UTEP, UT-San Antonio.
C-USA Strength: Charlotte succeeded in landing its football program in an FBS Conference while remaining in a top 10 men's basketball conference. The league had an RPI of 11 this past year in women's basketball, as well. In addition, the 49ers join a conference that has sent teams to 5 of the last 7 College Baseball World Series, sent five teams to last year's golf and softball NCAA Tournaments and four teams to the last two NCAA Men's Soccer Tournaments. Women's soccer and volleyball have also been multiple bid sports for Conference USA. Conference USA has also crowned national champions in track and field and cross country and sent men's and women's tennis teams to last year's NCAA Sweet 16.
FBS History: Charlotte's football program is one of a very few that's first conference will be an FBS Conference. The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is the top level of college football. There are 11 FBS Conferences in the country.
Timetable: Charlotte will begin play in Conference USA in 16 sports in 2013-14. Football's first season of competition in Conference USA will be 2015-16. Charlotte's football team will compete as an independent in 2013 and 2014.
Charlotte 49ers NCAA Div. I Conference Membership:
Sun Belt Conference, 1976-77 to 1990-91
Metro Conference, 1991-92 to 1994-95
Conference USA, 1995-96 to 2004-05
Atlantic 10 Conference, 2005-06 to 2012-13
Conference USA, 2013-14
C-USA TV Partners: C-USA enjoys significant television exposure through a multi-tiered selection process that is rooted in partnerships with FOX Sports Media Group, CBS Sports Network, and ESPN. By partnering with FOX Sports Media Group and extending an existing partnership with CBS Sports Network, the league has substantially increased the number of national and regional appearances for football, men's and women's basketball, and all other conference sports. ESPN carries the C-USA Football Championship.
C-USA & NCAA Governance: Along with the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC, Conference USA is one of the seven conferences having significant representation in the NCAA governance structure. The Presidents of the member institutions serve as the league's Board of Directors.
Primary Bowl Ties:
We don't know what the bowl picture will look like exactly when we become bowl eligible, but in 2013 they expect to have five primary ties along with one secondary tie (Military Bowl).
Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn. (SEC)
Hawai'I Bowl, Honolulu, Hawai'I (Mountain West)
New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans, La. (Sun Belt)
Beef O'Brady's Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla. (Big East)
Ticket City Bowl, Dallas, Texas (Big Ten)