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Western Kentucky to join Conference USA

Western Kentucky will join Conference USA according to reports from the Bowling Green Daily News, ESPN and CBS Sports.

The move is yet another response to movement further up the conference realignment food chain, as Conference USA was forced to back-fill after Tulsa announced plans to join the soon-to-be-renamed Big East earlier this week. The Hilltoppers will become the fifth former Sun Belt team to join Conference USA, following Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and North Texas. Western Kentucky, along with the Owls and Blue Raiders will join the league officially in 2014.

The addition of Western Kentucky brings Conference USA back up to a total of 14 teams after Charlotte joins the league for the 2015 season. Our guess is that the Hilltoppers will be placed in the East Division with Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion. The West Division would feature Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP and UTSA.

On the other side of the coin, the Sun Belt will presumably be forced to expand again after revealing plans this week to grow to 12 members with the additions of Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Idaho and New Mexico State for the 2014 season. The loss of Western Kentucky puts the league one team short of the requisite 12 members to host a conference championship game; ESPN's Brett McMurphy has reported James Madison and Liberty are the leading candidates to fill the spot left by the Hilltoppers. 

Below is an up-to-date listing of future rosters for the Big East, Conference USA and Sun Belt.

Big East
Remaining Members
Cincinnati
Connecticut
South Florida
Temple

Joining in 2013
Central Florida
Houston
Memphis
SMU

Leaving after 2013
Louisville
Rutgers

Joining in 2014
East Carolina
Tulane
Tulsa

Joining in 2015
Navy

Conference USA
Remaining Members
Marshall
Rice
Southern Miss
UAB
UTEP

Joining in 2013
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Louisiana Tech
Middle Tennessee
North Texas
UTSA

Leaving after 2013
East Carolina
Tulane
Tulsa

Joining in 2014
Old Dominion
Western Kentucky

Joining in 2015
Charlotte

Sun Belt
Remaining Members
Arkansas State
Louisiana - Lafayette
Louisiana - Monroe
South Alabama
Troy

Joining in 2013
Georgia State
Texas State

Leaving after 2013
Western Kentucky

Joining in 2014
Appalachian State
Georgia Southern
Idaho
New Mexico State

 

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