MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee State University officially announced Thursday that they have accepted an invitation to become a member of Conference USA.
The crowd broke out into the university's fight song after President Sidney McPhee made the announcement at the new student union. He called Blue Raider fans the "greatest fans in America."
"I'd like to thank Chris Massaro, our coaches, the athletic administrators and our student athletes that have helped build our program," McPhee said.
Athletic Director Chris Massaro said serious discussions started last spring about the change. He said he is "excited about the opponents we will play in all of our venues."
"I think we'll be able to get some recruits we may not have been able to get to in the past," Massaro said.
MTSU will make the move to the new conference no later than July 1, 2014.
Massaro added they are excited to play their Sun Belt schedules, and will be good members of the conference as they finish out their time.
The Blue Raiders (8-3) play Arkansas State on Saturday for the Sun Belt Conference championship.
MTSU has been a member of the Sun Belt conference for the past 12 years. Prior to that, MTSU spent two years as an independent and the previous 47 years as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference
The move is the latest domino to fall in conference realignment. Conference USA will be losing half of its members over the next two years, but it's already in the process of adding seven more including MTSU.
The team will also be getting more exposure as Conference USA carries name recognition.
Florida Atlantic University, Florida International and North Texas will all be leaving the Sunbelt for Conference USA.
Tulane and East Carolina announced Tuesday they are leaving Conference USA to join the Big East. The Green Wave will be full Big East members; the Pirates football only.
Conference USA is an established, nationally recognized FBS conference that sponsors 20 sport championships.
The C-USA membership beginning July 1, 2013, will include Charlotte, East Carolina, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UTEP, and UTSA. The league office is located in Irving, Texas.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)