Gamecock Athletics Accepts Invitation to Join Conference USA
From JSU Sports Information
Jacksonville State University has accepted an invitation to join Conference USA in all sports to start the 2023-24 academic year, the school and league office announced on Friday.
The league announced the additions of four members as part of a joint release, and the Gamecocks will join Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston as the newest members of C-USA.
"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," JSU President Dr. Don Killingsworth said. "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."
Currently a member of the ASUN Conference, JSU will transition all sports into C-USA in the summer of 2023, with the biggest change coming for the Gamecock football program. With the new conference home, JSU will make the jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football. It will end a run in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) that started in 1995 and has seen the Gamecocks win nine conference championships and advance to the Division I Playoffs 10 times. JSU has advanced to the Quarterfinals three times since 2013, including a National Runner-Up finish in 2015.
"We are certainly proud of the tradition that has been built by Gamecock Football, one that spans well over a century," JSU Athletics Director Greg Seitz said. "We've solidified ourselves as one of the most successful and consistent programs in the FCS over the past decade, so the opportunity to compete at the game's highest level is one we couldn't pass up."
Conference USA is an NCAA Division I athletic conference based in Dallas, Texas. Now in its third decade, Conference USA has adapted to the ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics with an unwavering commitment to excellence, integrity and leadership in competition, academics and community.
"We are incredibly excited about adding these four new members and feel there is tremendous upside in these moves for our conference," Conference USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said. "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."
The Gamecocks have been putting themselves in position for the move over the past 11 years, a timeframe that has seen JSU invest millions of dollars in its athletics facilities, while also implementing numerous projects across campus that will help continue to provide the Gamecock students and student-athletes one of the top collegiate experiences in the region.
Those improvements have been highlighted by the new campus and recreation facility that was completed in 2019 and the new business school that has reopened in 2021, while future projects include the Randy Owen Performing Arts Center and the dorm and dining additions to the football stadium complex, which will also provide new day-to-day facilities for the football program.
"To compete at the highest level has been a goal for Jacksonville State Athletics for many years," Seitz added. "In order to make that move, we knew that we would have to continue to progress in many areas, including facilities. Since 2010, we've been able to provide upgrades to every on campus athletic facility and we have multiple upgrades planned for the near future. Those, along with the many projects and plans across our campus, make Jacksonville State University a place we feel can compete on any level."