May 20, 2010
At Southern Miss we are tenacious in our quest for excellence. The desire to reach greater heights has always fueled our competitive spirit. After all, "To the Top" is our motto.
As business wrapped up at the Conference USA Spring meetings in Destin this week, representatives of our member institutions were talking enthusiastically about a positive future. There is much excitement as our league continues to improve and the future of Conference USA is a bright one. Everyone in attendance agreed that the league has a solid foundation for continued future success.
Yet even as committed members of C-USA, we also are aware of the conference expansion buzz taking place across the country. As Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky was quoted in media reports, our members have no problem having a conversation about changing conferences, and we have those discussions openly. Every institution seeks to improve, and this is what makes any league better - the continued commitment to success of its member athletic programs. This is what each member brings to the conference table, but we also know it can capture the attention of outside suitors.
At Southern Miss, talk of improvement did not begin with this year's rumors about coming conference realignment. Since 2000, Southern Miss has implemented more than $67 million in facility upgrades and improvements for our 16 NCAA-sanctioned intercollegiate sports. Our football program has been a force in Conference USA, with four league titles and 16 consecutive winning seasons (the fourth longest winning streak in the FBS). The Eagles have played in 12 bowls in the last 13 years. Just last year, Southern Miss played in its seventh consecutive baseball NCAA regional, including a berth in the 2009 College World Series. We are especially proud that these accomplishments came as our overall graduation rate continues to be above 80% for our student-athletes.
Our institution is the Gulf South's premier research university with a strong record of distinction. Recent years have seen marked improvements in our athletic budget, sponsorships, and overall competitive success across all sports. As a charter member, Southern Miss has been an integral part of Conference USA, and counted among the leading programs in the league. Our pride in our accomplishments does not diminish the commitment we have to Conference USA, but simply recognizes that we are driven by a desire for success.
We are not sitting still, and are positioned to embrace whatever opportunities may emerge. That remains our focus at Southern Miss, where great things are happening and we continue our quest to compete nationally at the highest level.