C-USA Inks Deal With New Orleans Bowl

Conference USA has signed a multi-year agreement with the New Orleans Bowl to send a mutually agreed upon team to its annual game, bowl officials announced Thursday. The New Orleans Bowl, to be played Dec. 17, 2002 at the Louisiana Superdome, will now match a Conference USA team against the champion of the Sun Belt Conference.

New Orleans - "We're very excited to be able to add a high quality opponent from Conference USA," said New Orleans Bowl Executive Director Ron Maestri. "We've made a commitment to make the New Orleans Bowl a special event for the participating teams and their fans, and this agreement with Conference USA helps us do that."

"We are looking forward to playing in the New Orleans Bowl. This fourth bowl provides additional postseason opportunities for our players and coaches," said Conference USA Commissioner Mike Slive. "The addition of the New Orleans Bowl and its close proximity to several of our schools provides the opportunity for our players to showcase their talents in a great city, in a great football state like Louisiana and to the rest of the nation on ESPN."

"We at the Sun Belt Conference are very excited to begin this special relationship with our friends at Conference USA," said Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters. "Conference USA brings many quality football programs to the New Orleans Bowl table. This will be an exciting venture as we continue to make the New Orleans Bowl a success."

Conference USA has 10 football-playing members for 2002, which include Army, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Southern Miss, TCU, Tulane and UAB. South Florida, a member of C-USA in all other sports, becomes a football member in 2003.

The Sun Belt Conference heads into its second season of football competition in 2002 with seven member institutions: Arkansas State University, the University of Idaho, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Middle Tennessee State University, New Mexico State University and University of North Texas. The 2001 New Orleans Bowl, which was televised by ESPN2, saw 26,718 tickets sold in its inaugural year as Colorado State defeated North Texas 45-20 last December 18. The game had a 1.37 national rating, making it the third-most watched bowl game on ESPN2 since the network began broadcasting bowl games in 1997. For more information please contact Dan Happoldt of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation at (504) 525-5678, Judy Willson of the Sun Belt Conference at (504) 299-9066 x15 or Brian Teter of Conference USA at (312) 553-0483.

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