UNC Charlotte 49ers To Join Conference USA
1:00 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

UNC Charlotte 49ers To Join Conference USA

Construction of UNCC's football stadium progresses. Photo: Lisa Miller

UNC Charlotte's 49ers football team still needs a stadium, players, and fans, but now it has a conference to compete in.

UNC Charlotte was long a member of Conference USA, but the school had to leave because it had no football team and now football has brought the 49ers back. The conference includes Marshall, Southern Miss and East Carolina. A match up between East Carolina and the 49ers has UNC Charlotte Athletics Director Judy Rose envisioning a sold-out stadium.

"We found a conference that will house each of our athletic teams, a conference that includes regional rivalries and holds national attention, a conference that has an in-state opponent for which we can really develop bragging rights and a rivalry," says Rose. "We found Conference USA and it feels great."

But joining Conference USA will take more money. For example, lighting will be needed in the stadium sooner than expected for televised games and the school will have to add up to 5,000 seats to bring the capacity to 20,000. The stadium is now under construction.

"Our alums and our fans are going to have to step up because we can only spend what we have, so the level of success will depend on how much money we can put into the program," says Rose. "We're going to be asking for a lot of support."

UNC Charlotte still hasn't reached its goal of selling 5,000 personal seat licenses. It still has 1,100 to go. Basically, these are upfront license fees for people to then buy season tickets.

All of UNC Charlotte's teams, except football, will compete in Conference USA beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. The football team will begin play in 2013 as an independent in college football's second tier division called the FCS. The team will move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2015 as a member of Conference USA.

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