Missouri State Accepts Invitation to Join Conference USA

For Immediate Release
May 10, 2024

Missouri State Accepts Invitation to Join Conference USA
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State University has accepted an invitation to join Conference USA as a full-league member, effective July 1, 2025. League and university officials announced the move on Friday morning (May 10).
A news conference will be held at 1 p.m. (Central) May 13 at Great Southern Bank Arena on the Springfield campus to formally announce the transition plans. The event is open to the public with parking available in the lots adjacent to the arena.
The announcement will officially place Missouri State University in the NCAA’s exclusive Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for the first time.
“This is an exciting day for Missouri State,” said MSU president, Clif Smart. “The opportunities associated with membership in an FBS conference allows us to continue to expand as a university and raise our reputation to the next level. We have valued our membership in the Missouri Valley Conference – a premier conference in the NCAA — and look forward to a final year in the league before we transition to CUSA.” 
Missouri State will become the 12th full-time member of CUSA, which is comprised of the following universities:

  • Florida International University (FIU) | Miami, Florida
  • Jacksonville State University (Jax State) | Jacksonville, Alabama
  • Liberty University | Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Louisiana Tech University (LA Tech) | Ruston, Louisiana
  • Middle Tennessee State University | Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • New Mexico State University | Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Sam Houston State University | Huntsville, Texas
  • University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) | El Paso, Texas
  • Western Kentucky University | Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Kennesaw State University | Kennesaw, Georgia (joining July 1, 2024)
  • University of Delaware | Newark, Delaware (joining July 1, 2025)

“We are so excited for the opportunities that CUSA membership will bring to our university, our student-athletes, our coaches and our fans,” said Director of Athletics Kyle Moats. “This move represents a transition to a national brand and a platform that will help raise the profile of Missouri State University and the city of Springfield. The steps we have taken over the past 15 years to invest in a successful broad-based athletics program have prepared us for this long-awaited moment.”
According to Moats, the anticipated increase in revenue from joining an FBS conference will ultimately make the move a budget-neutral transition. Similarly, he noted the potential for more financial resources for student-athletes and travel upgrades as significant factors in the university’s decision.
“This move will absolutely open doors for us,” Moats explained. “For our student-athletes, they will have less bus travel and more flights which will get them back to campus in a safer and more-timely manner. They will also have more financial resources at their disposal for cost of attendance, Alston funds, and a more strategic presence in the name, image and likeness (NIL) space.”
The Bears will compete in CUSA in the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, women’s soccer, women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s tennis, women’s track and field, and beach volleyball.
More information will be available in the coming months regarding league affiliation opportunities for the sports of men’s soccer and swimming and diving, which are currently not part of CUSA’s sport sponsorship profile.
Missouri State will retain its membership in the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2024-25 season. All sports currently participating in the MVC will be eligible for regular-season and post-season championships.

MoState football will continue competing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (FCS) for the 2024 season. In 2025, football will compete in Conference USA, and will be eligible for a Conference USA regular-season championship. In 2026, football will be eligible to compete in the Conference USA Championship game and a bowl game.
With the move to FBS football and the additional 22 scholarships it requires, the university has already announced the addition of two new emerging women’s programs – STUNT, and acrobatics and tumbling. These new sports will debut during the 2024-25 school year, keeping Missouri State in step with its long-standing tradition of excellence in women’s athletics and its commitment to Title IX compliance.
Conference USA has championed success in college athletics through dedicated leadership, dynamic partnership, and diverse membership. The “Group of Five” football status of CUSA gives its league members an elevated presence in the NCAA’s governance structure and joins its cohort leagues with representation in the expanded CFP playoff system. Founded in 1995 and based in Dallas, CUSA’s membership in 2024-25 will include 10 schools with Missouri State and Delaware expanding the league’s membership to 12 schools in 2025-26.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Missouri State University as the 12th member of Conference USA,” said CUSA Commissioner Judy MacLeod. “The institution boasts a great tradition in athletics and academics that will strengthen and further position our membership for long term success in the national landscape.  We look forward to our partnership with President Clif Smart, incoming President Dr. Biff Williams, Director of Athletics Kyle Moats, and their entire leadership team.”
Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive university system with a mission in public affairs. With more than 170 undergraduate degree programs and more than 90 master’s and doctoral programs, Missouri State’s academic programs continue to rank among the nation’s best. MSU holds the higher-level classification of doctoral and professional studies from The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Missouri State’s student-athletes contribute to the university’s overall academic landscape with more than 100 graduating student-athletes each year for the past 11 years and 68 percent of all Bears holding a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better, including 18 percent with a 4.0 GPA.
“Today marks a monumental achievement for our athletics program,” Board of Governors Chair Lynn Parman said. “Our admission into Conference USA validates the hard work of our student-athletes, coaches and staff over many years. Competing at the highest level will challenge our teams like never before, but I’m confident their grit and determination will shine. This move elevates our university’s reputation and opens doors for greater national exposure.”
As proud members of the Missouri Valley Conference since 1990, MSU has claimed 117 Valley regular-season and post-season tournament titles in its 34-year affiliation in the nation’s second-oldest Division I conference. The Bears have won five MVC All-Sports Trophy awards in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2018 while finishing second nine times, including each of the past three years (2021, 2022, 2023).
“I want to thank commissioners Doug Elgin and Jeff Jackson who have both been strong, visionary leaders during our tenure in the Missouri Valley,” said Moats. “Likewise, sincere thanks goes to Gateway and MVFC commissioner Patty Viverito. Those individuals recognized the potential of our university decades ago and honored us with an inclusive and competitive league that we have proudly represented and called home. We will always have strong ties to the MVC’s proud history and appreciate the camaraderie of the other Valley universities we have competed alongside during our tenure.”
Missouri State’s invitation to Conference USA was unanimously approved by the university’s Board of Governors at its regularly-scheduled meeting Thursday on the Springfield campus. MSU’s application to change Division I classifications from FCS to FBS is also subject to formal approval by the NCAA.



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