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Conference USA Adds Western Kentucky


Conference USA Adds Western Kentucky

IRVING, Texas - Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky has announced the league has entered into a membership agreement with Western Kentucky University, effective July 1, 2014.

"We welcome Western Kentucky to Conference USA," Banowsky said. "The tradition of the University and its athletics success is truly remarkable. The men's basketball program has made seven NCAA appearances since 2000, the women's basketball program has advanced to three NCAA Final Fours and football went to a bowl game last season in just its fourth year in the FBS."

Located in Bowling Green, Ky., the school has an enrollment of 21,124 students and sponsors 19 NCAA Division I sports. The Hilltoppers have made 23 appearances in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, including a trip to the 2008 Sweet Sixteen and the 1971 Final Four. Western Kentucky is ranked eighth nationally among NCAA schools for winning percentage. The women's basketball team has made 16 trips to the NCAA Tournament, with 11-straight appearances between 1985-95 and three trips to the NCAA Final Four.

Additionally, football has produced 70 All-Americans at the FCS and FBS levels, transitioning to a bowl eligible FBS member in 2009. WKU volleyball has been to five NCAA Tournaments in the last six years. Baseball has averaged 34 wins in the last five seasons with 17 MLB draft picks over the last four years. The Hilltopper track & field program has won 22 conference championships and produced 22 All-America selections since 2008.

The Hilltoppers receive regular coverage in nearby Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky. Both cities are within 90 miles of campus and rank among the Top 50 television markets in the country at No. 29 and No. 48, respectively. In partnership with the University and WKYU-PBS, WKU Athletics also sponsors the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network (HSSN) to provide audio and high-definition video from WKU events. HSSN recently purchased a new HD truck, which will help provide outstanding content for the C-USA Digital Network.

Western Kentucky will officially become a member on July 1, 2014. Complete Conference USA membership for the 2014-15 season will also include the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte), Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University (FIU), Louisiana Tech University, Marshall University, Middle Tennessee State University, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, Rice University, University of Southern Mississippi, The University of Tulsa, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
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Conference USA proudly welcomes Western Kentucky University to its membership as the Hilltoppers officially join the league today. WKU is well positioned for success upon entering Conference USA based on a storied athletic history, administrative and community support, and a solid academic foundation.

Since 2000, WKU has won more than 80 conference championships, graduated more than 85 percent of its student-athletes and invested more than $100 million in new construction or renovations of athletic facilities. Additionally, the men's basketball program ranks 18th in NCAA history for wins, women's basketball has appeared in three NCAA Final Fours and the school has boasted more than 70 football All-Americans.
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WKU will join 13 other institutions - Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP and UTSA - to make up the 2014-15 membership. The Conference USA footprint reaches over 10 states with a combined population of approximately 30 million.

Conference USA sponsors competition in 19 sports - nine for men (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field) and 10 for women (basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball). WKU will compete in 17 C-USA Championships, with the exception of only men's soccer and men's tennis.

WKU Athletics invited the Bowling Green, Kentucky, community to help "Paint BG Red" today to celebrate the official start of WKU's affiliation with Conference USA. Beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until noon, WKU Athletics will be traveling around the community with C-USA prizes to distribute at businesses, offices and restaurants who are wearing WKU red. Fans are encouraged to tweet a picture of themselves and their co-workers dressed in WKU attire to @WKUSports using the hashtag #PaintBGRed to show the Prize Patrol where you are located.

The day culminates from 5-7 p.m. CT at the 6-4-3 Sports Bar in Hitcents Park Plaza in downtown Bowling Green with the official Conference USA Kickoff Celebration. There will be meet and greet chances with Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, WKU head coaches, cheerleaders, Big Red and other special guests. The first 250 fans will receive a free Conference USA Kickoff Celebration t-shirt.
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