Louisiana Tech joins Conference USA

RUSTON — After months of ongoing speculation and years of positioning itself for the opportunity, Louisiana Tech University accepted an invitation to join Conference USA during a press conference Friday on Karl Malone Court in the Thomas Assembly Center.

Tech, a member of the Western Athletic Conference since July 2001, officially will become a member of Conference USA in an all-sports move starting July 1, 2013.

University President Dan Reneau said Friday’s announcement is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by university administrators, coaches and student-athletes.

“This is the dawn of a new era for Louisiana Tech University and a goal we have worked very hard over the past several years to achieve,” Reneau said. “I want to publicly acknowledge the efforts of (LA Tech Athletic Director) Bruce Van De Velde and his team as well as dedicated alums such as Terry Bradshaw and the Davison family, who were instrumental in helping tell our story and promote our vision for the future of Louisiana Tech Athletics.

“Above all, I want to thank the Tech Nation for their loyal support and commitment to the athletics program. You are the spirit of Louisiana Tech and an inspiration to our coaches and student-athletes.”

Tech is one of five institutions that accepted a bid to C-USA along with North Texas, the University of Texas-San Antonio, Florida International and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The five will join existing members Southern Miss, Tulane, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Marshall, East Carolina, Rice, Tulsa and the University of Texas at El Paso to form the 13-team league. According to the league office, additional expansion is possible and divisions will be set in the near future.

The league office said the conference and the Mountain West will continue to discuss a future affiliation that could begin as early as 2013. Both conferences agreed that adding membership at this time was important and have carefully coordinated new membership plans. Additional expansion remains a possibility.

“The discussions with the Mountain West are ongoing,” said C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, who was present at Friday’s announcement. “What form the relationship will take is still to be determined, but both remain committed to working together.”

Van De Velde said by joining C-USA, Tech is taking “another step in solidifying our place as north Louisiana’s flagship university.

“It is a great honor to be invited to Conference USA, a league whose members reflect the same strong academic reputation and rich intercollegiate athletic traditions as Louisiana Tech,” Van De Velde said.

Conference USA welcomes Louisiana Tech’s 16 NCAA Division I sanctioned sports (nine women’s, seven men’s) that have combined to capture 29 team titles during its 11-year membership in the WAC.

“Located right in the heart of our Conference, we are so pleased to be able to start this association,” Banowsky said. “The more you learn about Louisiana Tech, the more you appreciate the fine programs they have in place. They have a great tradition and a wonderful vision for excellence in the future. They will make a great addition to the Conference.”

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