Conference USA

How big is it, how good is it and what about media exposure?

Conference USA

How big is it, how good is it and what about media exposure?

How big is Conference USA?

The conference spans 13 states and as many major media markets. Unlike the WAC, it is one of the seven major conferences that have significant representation in the NCAA governance structure, and enjoys significant national television exposure, NCAA automatic qualifications and major bowl tie-ins.

It sponsors 19 sports — baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The conference is enhanced by automatic bids in volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and baseball. Men’s basketball and volleyball compete in two divisions, the American and National. All other sports compete in a single one.

How good is it?

The league has consistently rated as one of the top basketball leagues in the country, producing 37 postseason teams (21 NCAA and 16 NIT). C-USA football, which began competition in 1996, has rated among the top seven conferences in the nation.

Nine football teams have earned bowl bids in the last four years, including Southern Miss which finished last season nationally ranked for the second time in three years.

C-USA is a member of the Bowl Championship Series, and sends its regular season champion to the AXA Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., and teams to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., the Bowl in Houston and the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich.

In women’s basketball, the league has produced 22 NCAA teams in its first five campaigns, including one team in the Sweet 16, along with 10 WNIT appearances.

In volleyball, the league has earned 13 NCAA bids, with Louisville reaching the Sweet 16 in 1996 and 1998.

In addition, 12 soccer teams, 14 baseball teams and five softball teams have earned NCAA Tournament bids. Last season, Tulane made its first appearance at the College World Series.

C-USA has also sent two men’s soccer teams to the Final Four and two teams to the Women’s College World Series. The league has also had numerous NCAA individual and team competitors in golf, tennis and track and field. Overall, Conference USA teams and individuals have made more than 190 NCAA appearances.

What about media exposure? 

ESPN, Inc. and Conference USA recently entered into an exclusive eight-year agreement, beginning with the 2001 football season and the 2001-2002 basketball season.

The multi-faceted agreement, which incorporates ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Regional Television, and ESPN Classic, is highlighted by: first-time coverage of C-USA football featuring weeknight games; televised future C-USA Football Championship Games on ABC Sports; men’s basketball coverage Fridays on ESPN and Wednesdays on ESPN2; syndication and network rights for the conference’s football and basketball coverage through ERT; continued exposure for women’s basketball, along with volleyball, baseball, soccer and softball, as well as marketing rights.