Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source confirmed that the Roadrunners would be among a group of schools joining C-USA. The same source said UTSA had also received invitations from the Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences.
The Mountain West and C-USA are in the process of joining their 16 existing members in some fashion after losing multiple schools.
Several sources have identified North Texas, Florida International and Louisiana Tech as leading candidates to join C-USA, which will lose SMU, Houston, Central Florida and Memphis to the Big East.
There is also strong speculation that Utah State is the top choice to join the MWC.
UTSA is slated to join the Western Athletic Conference on July 1 for its second season of football. But it will be an unexpectedly short stay now that C-USA, which UTSA identified as its dream destination when the football program was approved in December 2008, has warmed up to the Roadrunners.
They had received a cool reception initially, when Hickey first approached commissioner Britton Banowsky in 2009 about the possibility of joining.
Then came last winter, when the two rekindled informal talks after the Big East gutted C-USA. But multiple sources said it wasn’t until recently, when C-USA began its evaluation process in earnest, that UTSA’s stock began to rise.
A C-USA athletic director, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Roadrunners stood out largely because of their location in a major Texas market and their long-term potential after averaging 35,521 fans at the Alamodome last season to set a start-up record.
Said a MWC athletic director, also speaking anonymously: “It’s Texas football. You can’t go wrong, especially with that market.”
I thought C-USA was the better fit for UTSA from the beginning. The C-USA they’ll be joining is different than it was when I first said that, but it’s still a good fit for them. I expect these guys to have a pretty solid program overall in a few years’ time.