Future unknown for Marshall athletics with C-USA likely to lose 6 members to AAC

The future of Conference USA is in limbo with six of its members looking to join the American Athletic Conference.

According to several national media and first reported by Yahoo! Sports, UAB, Florida Atlantic, Rice, North Texas, UTSA and Charlotte are expected to apply for AAC membership starting this week.

All six schools would almost certainly be accepted, leaving Marshall behind one of the remaining eight members of C-USA. The other remaining members of C-USA are: Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, UTEP and Western Kentucky.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Marshall’s interim athletic director Jeff O’Malley made a two-part statement on social media: With the news that broke yesterday, I want to assure our fans that we have worked and will continue to work to position Marshall in the best possible way. The only thing I’ve learned through this process is that Marshall University has a great brand and one of the best fan bases in the country. Although the climate is changing, I am very excited about the future of Marshall Athletics.

President Marshall Jerome A. Gilbert also made a statement on social media later Tuesday. He was reading : I am working closely with AD O’Malley to determine what is best for Marshall track and field. We are in a strong position. I am convinced that we can achieve a good result for the herd.

Football Marshall freshman Charles Huff weighed in on the topic on Tuesday.

“I had a lot of conversations long before there was the Twitter bug about this conference realignment with our administration and management,” Huff said. “Our leadership has a plan that I’m 100 percent behind. They do it in the best way for the athletics of Marshall University and Marshall University as a whole. What we need to make sure we understand is that you need to take your fan hat off and say, “OK, what’s best for Marshall track and field? And I’m not saying it’s to go or stay. Our administration has a plan that we will roll out here when it deems it necessary after gathering all the information. “

Marshall’s head coach Charles Huff shouts from the sideline during the first quarter against the Old Dominion Monarchs at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

After Oklahoma and Texas were accepted into the Southeastern Conference earlier this year, the Big 12 announced the addition of current AAC members Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston.

With these three schools to join the Big 12 by July 2024 at the latest, the AAC has had no choice but to seek to expand. Members of Mountain West Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State reportedly turned down the AAC several weeks ago.

Adding the six C-USA schools would leave AAC with 14 members, of which 12 were C-USA members at one point.

The addition of Rice, North Texas and UTSA allows the league to maintain a strong presence in Texas with the loss of Houston, although it also has EMS.

Despite dropping out of its football program and being absent from a team in 2015 and 2016, UAB has won C-USA two of the last three seasons and is located in one of the best recruiting areas in the country.

The addition of FAU allows the AAC to keep two teams (South Florida is the other) in Florida despite losing UCF.

Charlotte did not present a football program until 2013 and started competing at C-USA in 2015, but is located in a larger market and a strong recruiting area.

The AAC has a strong media rights deal with ESPN which pays members around $ 6 million per year. On the other hand, C-USA members receive less than a million dollars a year in television revenues.

Marshall joined C-USA in 2005 after leaving the Mid-American Conference.

Huff says that much more than football is in the decisions, although it is the sport that generates the most income.

“When you talk about changing conferences, you talk about budgets, television contracts, where are we now from a foundations point of view compared to moving to another league or staying in that league? How will this affect the women’s cross country team, volleyball, softball and baseball? It’s not a football kick, ”Huff said. “We’re not just moving the football team, it’s everyone.”

If it lost all six schools to AAC, C-USA would have to add at least two members to become a 10-team league.

C-USA officials recently contacted AAC officials to assess the merits of combining schools from both leagues into two new leagues geographically, but the AAC rejected.

C-USA could look to the Sun Belt for expansion, while independent Liberty could also be a target.

Regardless of what the future may hold for Marshall track and field, Huff believes the school administration will make the right choice.

“I fully support our administration and all of the people who make these decisions,” Huff said. “I was extremely satisfied with the transparency. Sometimes in these things you wake up one day and suddenly realize that you are playing the Hawaii conference and no one has spoken to you. This was not the case here. Our administration did a phenomenal job of laying out the pros, cons and possibilities long before the Twitter machine did. “

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