July 1, 2013
Denton, Texas -
The Mean Green's much-anticipated, long-sought move to Conference USA officially takes place on July 1, inaugurating an era that finds North Texas with the most geographic rivals since the 1950s and with more television exposure and post-season opportunities than ever before.
North Texas was one of eight schools that officially became members of Conference USA on Monday. Making the move along with the Mean Green are UNC-Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Texas-San Antonio, Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, joining existing C-USA members East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, Alabama-Birmingham and Texas-El Paso.
That roster of schools offers the chance to establish something that has been missing at North Texas since its days in the Gulf Coast and Lone Star conferences - local rivalries.
The new conference means North Texas will be in a league with three other schools in Texas and three schools in bordering states. In all, seven members of the new Conference USA are within 650 miles of Denton, whereas only three of football-playing Sun Belt members were within that radius. The Mean Green suddenly gains geographically-close adversaries to play in every sport, every year.
"It's cool for the players, because they're going to have grown up playing against and sometimes with a lot of kids who get recruited in this conference, especially this division," said women's basketball coach Mike Petersen, a veteran of the intense rivalries in the ACC.
"I'm excited because I think it's going to help all the sports in general, our fan base, recruiting and being able to build rivalries," said soccer coach John Hedlund.
The Mean Green's first Conference USA contests will take place on September 27, 2013, in Denton, when the North Texas volleyball team hosts East Carolina and the soccer team plays Southern Miss. Football begins C-USA play a week later on October 5 at Tulane.
The move will also be an enormous boost in visibility for North Texas. The football team will be on national television eight times this year, as opposed to three such appearances last season. Also, more North Texas road games in a variety of sports will be streamed live than in previous years, a benefit of North Texas' move to C-USA and MeanGreenSports.com's move to CBS Interactive, which also takes place July 1.
"Kids want opportunities to be on television and to go to bowl games, and Conference USA just enhances all of those things for all of us," said football coach Dan McCarney. "C-USA has tremendous bowl tie-ins and great television exposure."
Conference USA also gives North Texas more chances to participate in post-season play. The league owns tie-ins to seven football bowl games; sent multiple teams to the NCAA soccer tournament every season since 2005; sent three teams to the NCAA volleyball tournament in 2008 and two in 2009; and ranks eighth in the nation in bids to the NCAA basketball tournament.
Tickets for the Mean Green's inaugural Conference USA season are available through the North Texas athletic office online at www.meangreensports.com, in person at Apogee Stadium Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, or by phone at 800-868-2366.