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WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart on staying in CUSA

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 7:05 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - On July 30, the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas at Austin joined the South Eastern Conference, causing a domino effect that trickled down all the way down to the Conference USA.

“We anticipated, at least two teams leaving Conference USA, maybe four, six was a little high, that was a little higher than what we thought,” Athletic Director Todd Stewart said.

Nine schools left the CUSA, (Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB and UTSA) six of which are heading to the American Athletic Conference. The AAC did not have WKU in their plans.

“The American’s strategy was to add schools from the biggest cities, so they took the six schools that were the six biggest markets,” Stewart said. “Bowling Green is not one of the top markets in the country. There’s a lot of great things about Bowling Green, but in terms of television market rankings, it’s not near the top, so from what we were told, we were not under consideration because of that.”

This biggest rumor for WKU was the Mid-American Conference and Western was ready to make the move.

“We would have taken a bid if offered to the MAC, whether it was as a 13 or as a package of four teams. That did not matter to us. If we were offered an opportunity to be in the MAC, we would have gone”

The MAC only wanted two teams and it was set for Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State to join, however MTSU backed out at the last second causing them to rescind their bid.

WKU will be staying in the CUSA for now, but AD Stewart is still confident for the future.

“I think that this has been an ever changing landscape and it will continue to change, and this latest wave of realignment did not go as we had hoped, but it’s just one chapter in the book, and this will be a lengthy book, there will be a lot more reading ahead, and there are very good days ahead for WKU athletics.”

“We will always do what’s best for Western Kentucky University. I can assure you of that.”

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