Officials announced today that FIU has accepted an all-sports invitation to join Conference USA, opening a new chapter in FIU Athletics history. FIU will begin membership in Conference USA starting July 1, 2013. The Panther men’s soccer team has been an affiliate member of Conference USA since 2005.
“This move to Conference USA is about providing greater opportunity for our student-athletes and our fans,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “A successful, visible athletics program is an integral part of building tradition and affinity in a young university such as ours. This is part of that journey. I want to thank Dr. Scott Cowen and the rest of the Conference USA CEOs for extending the invitation. I would also like to thank Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson, former commissioner Wright Waters and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference for being terrific partners the past 14 years.”
FIU Athletics is home to more than 400 student-athletes competing in 18 varsity sports, including seven men’s and 11 women’s programs. As a Division I member, FIU Athletics teams boast 42 NCAA postseason tournament appearances and 102 All-America honors over the past three decades. Over the last two years, FIU programs have prospered, highlighted by conference championships in football, baseball, women’s soccer and tennis. In addition, the football team has participated in back-to-back bowl games in 2010 and 2011.
“This is a milestone day for FIU Athletics,” said FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia. “I want to thank Commissioner Britton Banowsky for the invitation to compete in Conference USA. This gives FIU increased opportunities to showcase a very successful athletics program on a national level. The increased visibility through Conference USA will also create further awareness for our law school, new medical school and the rest of our academic programs.”
From its beginning in 1994, Conference USA members have been champions in sport, most notably earning a combined 67 football bowl invitations, 102 appearances in postseason men’s basketball tournaments, 85 trips to postseason women’s basketball tournaments, and 53 NCAA baseball regional berths. In addition, 36 C-USA volleyball teams, 61 men’s and women’s soccer teams and 30 softball teams have also earned NCAA Tournament bids.
“The growth of FIU is one of the truly great stories in American higher education and we are delighted to welcome FIU to the conference,” said Banowsky. “It is obvious to us that the University has great future potential and we are excited to be able to partner with them going forward. We are also pleased to bring Conference USA to South Florida.”
FIU boasts its own on-campus football stadium, Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium, which was renovated in 2008 and expanded to 20,000 seats in 2012. U.S. Century Bank Arena, home to FIU men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, has also become a model facility in the city of Miami annually hosting commencement, athletics and premium entertainment events. In January, FIU finished nearly $10 million in renovations and enhancements to the arena which now includes a suites level, picturesque grand entrance and many new amenities.