Money, travel, security and rivalries factored into WKU's leap to Conference USA

04/01/2013 05:57 PM

Western Kentucky University officials said they wanted to “control our own destiny” with a move to Conference USA that they expect to save money and time on travel and generate much more money for its athletics program.

WKU’s board of regents voted Monday to bolt the Sun Belt Conference to join Conference USA starting in the 2014 football season.

“There certainly will eventually be a significant difference in revenue,” said WKU Athletics Director Todd Stewart. “Certainly, that was a big part of this but it wasn’t the only part.”

Another factor: rivalries.

WKU will follow other exiting Sun Belt schools, including Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Middle Tennessee.

WKU President Gary Ransdell also said that the spreading footprint of the Sun Belt Conference to far-flung schools like Idaho and New Mexico State would have made it more expensive and logistically challenging for athletes and fans.

Here’s what Ransdell and Stewart said about the reasons for the move:

So when will the conference shuffle stop?

Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said it was time to unplug the conference merry-go-round.

“Hopefully we’re going to slow down a little bit,” he said. “We need to catch our breath, and we need to begin working on things we all care a lot about and that’s academics and education.”


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