As the Big East quickly becomes the “New Conference USA,” the real C-USA is scrambling to fill in the gaps left by the sudden departures of its member schools.
After it was announced Tuesday that Tulane would join the Big East as a full member and East Carolina would make the same shift as a football-only school, Conference USA worked quickly to add Middle Tennessee State to its ranks, Harry Minium of The Virginian-Pilot is reporting.
The Middle Tennessee State move had been in realignment discussions before, with the school missing out on C-USA expansion that took place in the spring. At that time, the conference added six schools.
MTSU comes over from the Sun Belt and will become Conference USA’s 13th school. It’s likely that the conference is not done expanding, though.
Buzz has picked up that the C-USA is looking to add a 14th member, likely Florida Atlantic, also from the Sun Belt, or New Mexico State from the WAC.
Middle Tennessee State is 4-1 so far this basketball season under head coach Kermit Davis. Senior Marcos Knight leads the team with 12.4 points and has added 6.2 rebounds per game for the Blue Raiders.
UPDATE 28 November 2012, 1:41 p.m. ET
Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com is reporting that Florida Atlantic will join Middle Tennessee State in its move to Conference USA:
Middle Tennessee & Florida Atlantic leaving Sun Belt for Conference USA
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.