Athletics Director Brian White gives his thoughts on FAU’s future in Conference USA and conference realignment

With the rumors of changing conferences becoming widespread, Athletics Director Brian White explained FAU’s stance on the topic.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

In the ever-evolving world of college football, conference realignment and thoughts of leaving one conference for another have been on the minds of many teams.

In August, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten, and Pac-12 formed a coalition to combat the expanding powerhouse that is the Southeastern Conference (SEC). This came a month after the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas announced they were departing the Big 12 for the SEC by July 1, 2025.

With the rumors of changing conferences or potential mergers becoming widespread, Athletics Director Brian White explained FAU’s stance on the topic. White stated that FAU is always monitoring the landscape of college athletics. He said that if anybody says they know exactly what’s
going to happen, they’re not telling the whole story because nobody knows, including the decision-makers.

“It’s just hard to predict how everything plays out and the big dominoes and where they fall,” White said. “But I do know the conversations we have at FAU are all about how we can be as good as we can possibly be competitively, within our facility space, within our student-athlete experience. We want to be the very best athletic partner we can possibly be to represent the university.”

Leaving a conference indicates that a university believes it is capable of finding a better deal somewhere else. A change of scenery allows it to face stronger competition while negotiating improved television contracts that gives them more televised games and name recognition, which is of utmost importance for an institution wanting to gain profits and to stand out from everyone else.

After pausing briefly when asked about what it would take to leave C-USA, the conference which FAU currently affiliates itself with, White maintained that they are proud partners with the conference and want to do everything they can to make it better.

Brian White (left) and men’s soccer head coach Joey Worthen (right). (Photo Courtesy of FAU Athletics.)

“It’s not beneficial for us to be sitting around thinking about outcomes. It’s not just athletics, but it’s a lot of things in life. You sit around and you know ‘would I make this transition if I had x’ or whatever it may be. At the end of the day, there’s nothing you can control to know what the future looks like,” White said. “For all of us, we’re trying to improve our brand, grow FAU, improve our student-athlete experience, and grow our budgets. We have ambitions here and I think everybody knows that.”

Regarding the impact of leaving C-USA, should that occur, White said it’s something that is not their focus right now and he has no idea of what it would look like at the moment.

“We all saw the move that two major universities made into a major conference at that level,” White said. “There’s big dominoes out there right now but for us, our focus is on what we’re doing and what we’re doing to build our brand.”

In C-USA, White said there is a constant push within the conference office to do everything they can to help its member institutions expand their fan bases. Having more television exposure is a part of that.

“Obviously, we all know conference and TV exposure and getting more games on national television, that is definitely a driver and that we’re on television that provides great exposure for a whole university for them to see games that are 1.8 miles of beach in paradise with palm trees,” White said. “That’s not only a selling point for athletic recruits; ideally, that’s an academic selling point for recruits from around the world for our admissions in our university.”

White understands that having more television exposure or greater revenues is key to giving student-athletes a better experience and helping them be successful at the university.

“The geographic region is always a positive as well, but we’re definitely happy where we are and we know that our conference is always fighting to improve the experience of our student-athletes,” White said. “You want to be in the same league with like-minded institutions that want to create great student-athlete experiences and have the ambitions we have, so we’re definitely very happy where we are.”

White explained that while he and the other athletic directors have a lot of conversations
about what’s going on, even in their influential positions of power, they can’t predict how the dominoes will fall in terms of major conference realignment.

“The biggest part, obviously, is our primary focus on our own institutions, but there’s also some semblance of [wanting] what’s best for college athletics, for student-athletes around the country,” White said. “There are a lot of student-athletes sitting in the NCAA Divisions I, II, and III that are affected by a lot of these big dominoes that fall, so we’re definitely all interested in what’s best for college athletics in addition to what’s best for our own institutions.”

White said the reason FAU has Division I college athletics is to serve as a front port for the institution and to be the marketing arm by increasing television exposure.

Brian White (right) offers a handshake to Everett Winchester (left). (Photo Courtesy of FAU Athletics.)

“I also think every institution in a conference has an obligation to do everything they can to improve their own institution, and that collectively improves the whole conference in some ways,” White said. “At Florida Atlantic, we do everything we can to make ourselves more competitive in all 19 sports… in addition to that, [we] do everything we can to improve our student-athlete experience, which I think feeds into recruiting, which then feeds into the competitiveness of the program, so that’s our kind of our constant focus here.”

White credited the streaming site Stadium for being a good partner to FAU, as there will be some games broadcast there this season, and he believes the streaming world is going to become more available for college sports.

“I know most schools in C-USA and the conference office would love to see more linear viewing for our programs as well. You’d like to be able to just tell your recruits, your fans, your students, your elders, and whoever to turn on ‘x’ channel and you’ll be able to get it pretty easily,” White said. “Although streaming has become more popular, being able to find a channel on TV is certainly the primary goal.”

Due to the changing landscape of college football, White is aware of the conversations everyone is having, including a possible alliance between C-USA and the Sun Belt Conference. While he entertains the idea of it happening, he notes how difficult that can be due to the large number of teams that could be in the league, therefore impacting how games will be scheduled, particularly in college football.

“I don’t think that is something that is very realistic, but I do think scheduling alliances that
could make sense are there, and I don’t think that’s a conversation that anybody’s not willing to have at this point,” White said. “There’s definitely more scheduling in the conversation versus merger [in] conferences. I don’t think we want to see many 20+ team leagues, that’s too complicated.”

Within C-USA, White believes in its leadership as there’s a “great camaraderie” within the league for its like-minded passion for student-athletes and competitiveness.

“I know we’re not there as a league… but I do think C-USA has a desire to provide more exposure to grow and improve, and there’s a lot of improving institutions in it,” White said.

White stated that FAU’s main goal is to be the best it can be, regardless of what happens. “You never know what college athletics [will] look like in the near future, and nobody knows, so the best way to prepare for an ever-changing environment is just to be excellent at what you do and where you are.”

Editor’s Note: This issue is a part of our September issue titled “SG Leaders Unmasked,” which you can pick up on campus or read online here.

Richard Pereira is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.