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Conference USA Seeks to Realign, Regionalize Three Leagues

Paul Steinbach

Conference USA is proposing the regionalization of three Group of Five conferences as a way to combat instability brought on by recent realignments involving Power 5 leagues.

As reported by CBS Sports, C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod and CEO board chairman Neal Smatresk (who serves as president of the University of North Texas) addressed a letter Tuesday to American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco and AAC chairman Michael Fitts (Tulane's president).

CBS Sports reported Saturday that presidents from C-USA, which currently extends from the eastern seaboard to El Paso, Texas, were set to review a proposal regarding the benefits of regionalization from league advisor and former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Both Aresco and Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill told CBS Sports they were against the idea before hearing the details.

The plan calls for schools from C-USA, the AAC and the Sun Belt to be reorganized by region. The redundancies of C-USA, AAC and Sun Belt membership are clear with the conferences each having members in many of the same states.

There are several athletic directors in the AAC and Sun Belt who favor regionalization and the travel savings it would afford, according to CBS Sports.

"Our presidents and our chancellors and our ADs have been talking about regionalization long before this current wave of realignment," MacLeod told CBS Sports. "Just the wear and tear of flying across the country and just missed time on campus of them being a student [is a factor]."

The letter, obtained by CBS Sports, calls conference realignment an "inflection point to reimagine a more regional, student friendly and sustainable model for our conferences."

"Rather than continuing to perpetuate the pattern of universities the pattern of universities moving from conference to conference in pursuit of modest media revenues," it states, "we see an opportunity to develop a more sensible and sustainable conference mode."


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