FIU to join Conference USA in 2013

Brandon Wise/ Sports Director

Eduardo Almaguer/ Asst. Sports Director

sports@fiusm.com

FIU will be one of five teams that will joining Conference USA in 2013 along with University of North Carolina at Charlotte,  Louisiana Tech University, University of North Texas and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

FIU leaves the Sun Belt Conference after 14 years and joins North Texas, also leaving the SBC, Louisiana Tech and University of Texas at San Antonio from the Western Athletics Conference, and Charlotte  from the Football Championship Subdivision.

There are still other possible incoming teams to the conference, such as Old Dominion, who has yet to sign a contract to join any conference.

Head Coach for the Women’s tennis team, Melissa Applebaum-Dall’au, believes that this move will help her team prgoressing in the future.

“I think that the Sun Belt has pushed us and we’ve been trying to help push them back in the sense to make it grow and get stronger,” Applebaum Dall’au said. “But were going up against schools now that give us more opportunities and I think that’s going to make it easier for us to play against some better ranked programs.”

In February,Conference USA originally planned a merger with the Mountain West, which reportedly was expected to have between 18 and 24 members. But last month, the move was considered “unlikely” a source told CBSSports.com. However, the two conferences are still hoping to work together in some fashion by 2013.

Incoming freshman lineman for the FIU football team Trenton Saunders believes that the move will help FIU’s reputation nationally.

“It’s going to give the program a lot more respect and give more guys that opportunity to make it to the league,” Saunders said. “It’s [going] to be huge in the recruiting process.”

With the expansion, C-USA, now with a possible 14 teams, is expected to split the league into two divisions: East and West. FIU is expected to join the East division.

Justin Halley, redshirt sophomore defensive back on the football team, believes that this is a good move for the University.

“I think it will be fun to play against better competition but it means our team [is going to] have to step up too,” Halley said.

Head Coach for women’s basketball Cindy Russo also believes that it was time to continue to grow.

“The Sun Belt was very good to us, it’s a place where we all grew, we had some really nice experiences and great competition,” Russo said. “I think it’s a classy [organization], but I think it’s time to move on.”

While the move will benefit the University, students will be paying more because of it. On Tuesday, May 8th, there will be a public hearing for the proposed increase in athletic fee by 54 cents per credit. In an email sent by the Division of Student Affairs, it is stated that “the intent of this change is to provide the following: increased competition opportunities for our student athletes, build affinity, improve brand recognition for FIU and join the peer group of academic institutions in Conference USA.”

There will be a meeting at the Biscayne Bay Campus on May 8th in the Wolfe University Center, Room 157 at 12:30 p.m. and a meeting at the Modesto Maidique Campus in the Graham University Center, Room 243 at 3:00 p.m.

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