UNT celebrated a landmark moment this spring when the Mean Green athletics program announced a new conference affiliation with Conference USA. As a result of UNT’s athletic and academic reputation, the university will become a member of C-USA effective July 1, 2013. UNT joins four other new members — the University of Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech University, Florida International University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Members in the region include Rice, UT-El Paso, Tulane and Tulsa.
"Moving our competitions to C-USA will be great for our fans because of the many natural, regional rivalries it will create," President V. Lane Rawlins says. "Having conference members in Texas and in nearby states makes this a logical move so that Mean Green fans can more readily attend games."
Competing in the Sun Belt Conference for the past 11 years, the Mean Green won a record 20 conference championships in 10 different sports and played in four bowl games and two NCAA men’s basketball tournaments. UNT will play its final games in the conference in 2012-13.
Membership in C-USA puts UNT in the position to play more teams at a higher level of competition with increased national visibility, and it will cut down on travel time for student-athletes, Athletic Director Rick Villarreal says.
"This is validation of the progress we have made in our athletics programs in conjunction with our university’s academic reputation," Villarreal says. "Conference USA provides a great partnership with several schools in our geographic proximity. It is a tremendous opportunity for us."
New C-USA rivals and their fans will enjoy state-of-the-art Mean Green facilities when they travel to Denton. Since 2003, UNT has added more than 12 new facilities to the athletics program. UNT’s Platinum LEED-certified Apogee Stadium — chosen as a World Stadium Awards 2012 nominee for innovative design that includes sustainable and engineering excellence — hosted an all-time single-season attendance record of more than 113,000 Mean Green fans in its inaugural season last fall.
This spring brought more great news for Mean Green supporters when Villarreal announced two new basketball coaches. Tony Benford, former men’s basketball associate head coach at Marquette University, was named the new head coach of men’s basketball. He replaces Johnny Jones, who is the new head coach at Louisiana State University.
Villarreal named Mike Petersen, former head coach of women’s basketball at Wake Forest University, as the new head coach of women’s basketball. He replaces Karen Aston, who is the new head coach at the University of Texas at Austin.