Rest assured. This was no April Fools' joke. Upon entering the Harbaugh Stadium Club there was a different feel in the air - it was excitement - with a brand spankin' new C-USA podium backdrop and banners properly placed in various locations inside L.T. Smith Stadium. The announcement of a new era in Western Kentucky athletics was about to begin.
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky began the press conference with a bang, reiterating that this press conference was not an April Fools' joke before properly introducing Western Kentucky University as the newest member of the conference.
WKU President Gary Ransdell then addressed the crowd saying that he initially contacted C-USA in order to control WKU's own destiny when the footprint of the Sun Belt Conference was changing and that joining the league would provide better sports security. Ransdell also mentioned that C-USA provides the postseason bowl access WKU needs in football with six affiliations and will also increase RPI ratings in both men's and women's basketball that will help in postseason tournament seeding.
Athletic Director Todd Stewart made note that Western Kentucky will avoid paying an exit fee to the Sun Belt Conference because they gave the league a notice beyond the allotted 12-month period. Stewart went on to mention the entry fee to join Conference USA is $2 million that will be paid in four installments over a two year span.
C-USA commissioner Banowsky also noted that league divisions will be re-evaluated after the 2013-14 sports season, but did talk about the possibility of getting creative and thinking outside the box when it came to aligning the divisions in basketball. Sounds like fun.
Mark your calendars, July 1st, 2014 is the date for a new conference, a new era, and a new beginning.