With FAU set to announce it is moving to Conference USA at 11 a.m. on Thursday, we know there are some questions about the move. We try to answer some of them in this Q&A.
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When does this happen?
FAU officials aren’t talking on the record about the proposed move, so some details are sketchy, but FAU is expected to play in the Sun Belt Conference in the 2013-14 academic year and move to Conference USA in 2014-15 in all sports.
Is there an exit fee for leaving the Sun Belt Conference or entry fee for Conference USA?
The penalty for leaving the Sun Belt is to forfeit the share of revenue from the conference. It’s estimated that is south of $500,000. The entry fee for schools that joined Conference USA was $2 million, so FAU will have to find a way to come up with that sometime soon.
What happens to the Sun Belt?
Middle Tennessee also will be leaving the Sun Belt Conference for Conference USA in 2014 giving the Sun Belt a crippling blow to the league after FIU and North Texas announced this summer they will be leaving as well. Georgia State and Texas State will join next season, but that still leaves the Sun Belt with just Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Troy and Western Kentucky playing football. Texas-Arlington will join the Sun Belt next season, joining UALR as non-football paying members.
The Sun Belt will likely reach out to FCS schools such as Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State.
Will Conference USA expand again?
In 2014 C-USA will have 12 members, but that number could jump to 14. Likely candidates would be current Sun Belt member Western Kentucky and New Mexico State.
Does mean the Shula Bowl is back on?
Look for FIU and FAU to meet again after a one-year hiatus. But after FIU pushed FAU to C-USA officials, will Owl Nation’s opinion of the Panthers change?
How will moving to Conference USA impact FAU football?
The Owls will move to a conference that has more bowl tie-ins (Seven instead of two with the Sun Belt) and a better TV package both in terms of revenue and chances to be on TV. The Sun Belt had a good year against Conference USA this season, going 6-2, but the caliber of competition is getting better in C-USA.
How will moving to Conference USA impact FAU basketball?
Conference USA has been a tough basketball league through the years, but that was due mostly to the teams that have left or are leaving soon. The conference has had some seasons recently when it has had just one bid to the NCAA Tournament and that could be happening more often.
What about other FAU’s other sports?
The travel will be tougher, than in the Sun Belt but such is life in Division I athletics these days. However, one coach told me it will not be as difficult as one would think because Conference USA cities are in cities with larger airports and are easier to get to than Sun Belt towns that often require a long bus trip after you land at a large airport.