Thomas Ashworth, Sports Editor
Jacksonville State Athletics announced on Friday afternoon that all JSU sports will move to C-USA for the 2023-2024 academic year.
According to the press release by JSU Athletics, JSU President Don Killingsworth spoke on the conference change, saying that “Jacksonville State University has and always will be eager to listen to opportunities that put our university and athletics department in the best situation possible, so when Conference USA reached out to us we were excited to listen. With the landscape of collegiate athletics changing more rapidly now than ever, we are thrilled to be able to align with a league with such an outstanding tradition as C-USA.”
Conference USA’s press release mentions that the move to add JSU, along with the three other schools added, was approved unanimously by C-USA’s board of directors. The three other schools added to C-USA will be Sam Houston State, who the Gamecocks football team played earlier this year, Liberty, who is also a member of the ASUN Conference, and New Mexico State.
In a video put out by JSU Athletics, JSU Athletic Director Greg Seitz talked about how fast the process was, saying that, “it happened really within the last eight to ten days. We received a call from Conference USA asking about our interest, we set up a Zoom call with leadership from C-USA, they made a campus visit earlier this week, we got the official invite and finished the paperwork actually earlier this morning.”
Despite the swiftness of the move, Seitz noted that this wasn’t a haphazard decision for JSU, stating that “we have been preparing for this moment for the last decade, if not 12 to 14 years.”
With the move, this will put Jacksonville State in a Group of Five FBS conference and will allow the football team to qualify for FBS bowl games. This will put JSU with their in-state rivals Troy and UAB as members of a GO5 FBS conference.
Conference USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said in their press release that, “We are incredibly excited about adding these four new members and feel there is tremendous upside in these moves for our conference. This is a quality mix of established and emerging universities that provides us with a compelling group to continue to build with, focusing on competing for and winning championships well into the future. We have been deliberate in our efforts for the past few weeks to get us to this point and will continue to evaluate and consider our additional options for membership.”
This move happened along with a huge shift of schools around conferences across college athletics. C-USA will be losing at least 9 of its members, including UAB, FLorida Atlantic and Rice, due to conference changes. Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky are also rumored to be moving to the Mid-American Conference, but it has not been confirmed yet.