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FIU Football: The Panthers’ First Public Comments on Conference USA Realignment

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Butch Davis offered the first public comments on realignment as FIU had been the only C-USA team without a statement.

Following FIU’s 34-19 loss to Western Kentucky, Butch Davis made the program’s first public comments on conference realignment, following the announcement on October 21 that six Conference USA member programs have applied and been accepted into the American Athletic Conference.

Prior to Saturday’s game, FIU Athletics department when contacted had either declined comment or offered a “no comment” on realignment. However, the Panthers' head coach chose to answer realignment questions when asked.

“I had no idea, nobody in the administration told me it was coming and to be honest, I found out like you when I saw it in the newspaper,” said Davis. “It was a little bit of a disappointment obviously, I don’t know how the rest of the administration and people feel about it.”

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco went into detail as to what he was looking for in choosing the programs that were selected to join the conference.

“We’re adding schools that not only share our philosophy of competition at the highest level, but have shown they’re willing to make the necessary investments to do so,” said AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco during the announcement of the new schools on Wednesday.

Florida Atlantic, UAB, Rice, Charlotte, North Texas and UTSA are slated to begin play in the American in time for the start of the 2023-24 season.

Davis opined an understanding of the statement given by AAC administration as to why certain programs were chosen — and why others were not.

“You saw what the commissioner of the AAC (Mike) Aresco said about why they didn’t choose other schools — someone sent me that article because as you guys know I’m not big into Twitter and social media but I saw the list of things that they wanted from the schools they had chosen and I could understand,” said Davis. “I heard today that there’s potentially another three or four that the conference could lose. But really, any of the questions that you guys have, you should direct to President (Mark) Rosenberg and call President of Trustees Dean Colson.”

When asked about the uncertainty surrounding the conference with teams leaving, Davis offered his thoughts.

“It destroys the conference when you have potentially nine schools leaving,” said Davis. “I really and truly don’t know, but like I said you should call the administration because I’m more concerned with this football team and getting things back on track.”

With Conference USA facing the prospect of having five-member institutions (FIU, Lousiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP, Western Kentucky) remaining, there has been speculation about the stability of the league going forward and where C-USA could turn to add teams — or which remaining schools could consider leaving. Tarleton State, Sam Houston State, New Mexico State and UMass have been speculated as potential options for Conference USA.