FAU officially announces move to Conference USA

FAU+President+Mary+Jane+Saunders+opens+Thursdays+press+conference+announcing+move+to+Conference+USA.+She+thanked+Florida+International+University+for+their+help%2C+but+warned+that+the+Owls+will+soon+recapture+the+Shula+Bowl+Trophy.

“FAU President Mary Jane Saunders opens Thursday’s press conference announcing move to Conference USA. She thanked Florida International University for their help, but warned that the Owls will soon recapture the Shula Bowl Trophy.”

Zack Kelberman

Less than 24 hours after FAU’s move to Conference USA was reported, University President Mary Jane Saunders, Athletic Director Pat Chun, several school officials and a few head coaches –– past and present –– were on hand at FAU Football Stadium to make it official.

“FAU President Mary Jane Saunders opens Thursday’s press conference announcing move to Conference USA. She thanked Florida International University for their help, but warned that the Owls will soon recapture the Shula Bowl Trophy.”

“We were invited to join Conference USA, and we have accepted that offer,” Saunders said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our student athletes, our entire student body, our coaches, our fans and the whole community.”

Chun, who took over as AD this year, was equally as excited about what he dubbed a “momentous day in the history of our great university.

“I want to make this quite clear. We are here because of the great package we offer,” Chun said. “And at the end of the day, this is about the 30,000 and growing students at the trajectory of the university that is spaceship-like. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time.

“We are going to strive to be the best we could be and build champions,” Chun continued as he thanked former coach Howard Schnellenberger.

The reasoning behind the move to Conference USA was quite clear.

It’s already known that Conference USA, compared to the Sun Belt, offers $1 million more in annual revenue, along with the ability to form lucrative television contracts.

“The TV deal with Conference USA is extensively larger than what the Sun Belt has,” Chun said. “Conference USA has working agreements with ESPN, FOX, CBS, college sports networks. That in itself is obviously a huge reason why we’re doing this.”

“FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun expands on FAU’s move from Sun Belt to Conference USA in 2014. He says it’s a momentous day for the university and promised to strive to build champions.”

Additionally, FAU will have to pay an entry fee into Conference USA, a process the school is still hammering out.

Financial reasons aside, though, switching conferences is good for the fabric of the school and program, something even past students can revel in.

“Let me just give a call out to all of our former Owls out there,” Saunders said. “We know when we get to see Alfred Morris do those Owl fingers after scoring touchdowns how that touches our heart.”

Going forward, FAU athletics’ benefits are threefold: an expansion of funds, an increase in national exposure, and a new level of competition.

“This is a big win for us,” Chun said. “People understand that this is all part of a plan, and our plan is to build an athletic program that is relevant in this country.”

Saunders confirmed that longtime Shula Bowl rival FIU indeed lobbied for FAU to join the conference.

“I’d like to personally thank Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg, who has been very helpful to FAU throughout this process,” Saunders said. “As you know, FIU’s team is joining Conference USA, and so we’ll be able to keep our traditional rivalry between our schools alive and well.”

However, she also stressed that the trophy, which the Panthers have captured in consecutive years, will be returning to FAU.

“I want to warn President Rosenberg that we intended to win back that Shula trophy,” Saunders said to raucous applause.