Kennesaw move to Conference USA moved quickly in recent weeks

There has long been interest from Conference USA and Kennesaw State University.

The process of Kennesaw becoming a member of the conference moved very quickly in recent weeks.

It would announced that the university had accepted an invitation to join Conference USA on Oct. 14. On Saturday, commissioner Judy MacLeod spoke from the university about the newest member, which will fully transitions from its current home in the Atlantic Sun Conference by 2024.

Since the Conference USA re-alignment started over a year ago, there was interest in adding Kennesaw to the conference. Though that process played out differently than the others that joined the conference.

“It was a very deliberate process through this,” MacLeod said. “We had initial interest in Kennesaw when we started going through initial realignment that was when Dr. (Kathy) Schwaig was the interim president and some other things were going on, so we didn’t get to a point at that time, but they have always been on our radar and this time we were able to take a deep dive into the program and the vision of the program. We made a visit about six weeks ago and the process really moved quickly there but our process was much more deliberate after the initial interest.”

Schwaig was named president in March.

Part of the interest and excitement stems from some of the similarities that Kennesaw has with other Conference USA members.

“We see a ton of similarities with our other members,” MacLeod said. “They fit really well geographically, the quality of the programs, the community aspect of the university, along with the eagerness to show what they can do on a bigger stage. We think Kennesaw is a program that is on the rise.”

As for what the fans can look forward to, moving from the FCS level to the FBS level is a step up in competition for football while allowing for more scholarships. By 2024 when the transfer is complete, according to the current NCAA scholarship rules for football, Kennesaw will be allowed to give out a maximum of 85 full scholarships to athletes. An FCS program can provide a maximum of 63 total scholarships.

There should be an increase in revenue for Kennesaw with more media exposure. It will also be easier for fans to find games on streaming or TV more consistently.

“We had a couple of goals when we started looking at media deals,” MacLeod said. “One was to reduce the number of partners, to consolidate that in some bigger platforms is important so everything is not so spread out. The exposure is going to be huge, and the revenue we will provide to our members will be key.”

MacLeod was unsure about plans to improve the stadium capacity of Fifth-Third Bank Stadium. She nodded yes when asked but did not offer a timeframe or logistics about making the 8,300-seat stadium larger but did expect changes.

2024 C-USA members

There are likely plans to expand the seating capacity of Kennesaw State’s stadium. It would have, by far, the smallest capcity of those schools who will be in Conference USA in 2024. Here is a list of the seating capacities.

Florida International – FIU Stadium (20,000)

Jacksonville State - Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium (24,000)

Kennesaw State – Fifth Third Bank Stadium (8,300)

Liberty – Williams Stadium (25,000)

Louisiana Tech -- Joe Aillet Stadium (28,562)

Middle Tennessee -- Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium (30,788)

New Mexico State -- Aggie Memorial Stadium (28,853)

Sam Houston State -- Elliott T. Bowers Stadium (14,000)

Texas-El Paso – Sun Bowl (45,971)

Western Kentucky – Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium (23,776)

*Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston State will join July 1, 2023. Kennesaw will join on July 1, 2024.