EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – One year after Conference USA seemed like it was about to fall apart, the league stabilized itself further on Friday.

C-USA announced that it has officially added Kennesaw State to the league, effective July 1, 2024. The Owls will become the conference’s 10th team when they come aboard in 2024.

The league’s Board of Directors approved the move unanimously on Friday.

“Today is an important day as we formally welcome Kennesaw State University to Conference USA,” Commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “The addition of this growing university continues to build upon our strong foundation and we are excited to partner with President Schwaig and KSU’s leadership team to transform our membership and strategically position the conference for long-term success.”

Located in Atlanta, Kennesaw State has over 43,000 undergraduate students and will allow C-USA to get a footprint in one of the biggest and most important cities in the South. It could allow for increased recruiting and exposure for every team in the conference.

Athletically, the Owls compete in 18 sports, 17 of which will compete in C-USA, and have claimed over 50 conference championships since joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2005, and the football program has captured three Big South championships in the program’s first five seasons at the Division I level.

The football program did not even exist until 2015 and has quickly become one of the most successful teams at the FCS level, winning more games (48) in its first five seasons than any other program in college football history. The Owls are also the first start-up program in college football history to post three consecutive 11-win seasons during its first five years of competition and have totaled 65 wins.

“They’re a solid FCS program, like Sam Houston and Jacksonville State,” said UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter. “Many of the programs that have come through Conference USA, even some of the ones that moved on, were all FCS football programs when they entered our league before. Over 5-20 years, they continued to mature and had aspirations of bigger and better things.”

The move will help make Conference USA stronger, after the league nearly fell apart in the fall of 2021 with the departure of nine of its teams. C-USA added Liberty, Jacksonville State, New Mexico State and Sam Houston last November to join the remaining quintet of FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and UTEP. The new foursome will join on July 1, 2023.

When Kennesaw State joins, the league will be at 10 teams, a place that the league’s university presidents seems to like. UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter said that while the possibility of adding more teams – and likely from the FCS level, like Kennesaw State – is on the table, the added revenue of having less teams is appealing to Conference USA’s schools.

“We’ve always got to be looking and evaluating who’s out there, who might have interest, what would be a good fit for a league,” Senter said. “There’s a ton of different reasons. But when you add people, then you have to split the revenue pie amongst more people. So it has to make sense in terms of the revenue piece of it as well. I think our presidents will feel very comfortable at 10, but they may continue to evaluate what the landscape looks like.”

Conference USA also added Dallas Baptist as a baseball-only school for the 2023 spring season, but the Patriots will not be in the league for anything other than that.

New Mexico State will be joining C-USA a full calendar year before Kennesaw State does, on July 1, 2023. NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia was also pleased with the addition of the Owls on Friday.

The Aggies are one of the newest teams in the league and understand how important it is to have stability in the league. NMSU was booted from the Sun Belt Conference after the 2017 season and were wandering the desert as an FBS Independent the last five years.

“Certainly, it adds stability. Having 10 members, it’s a round number and it makes things easier from a competitive and a scheduling standpoint,” said Moccia. “Their geography being in Atlanta is very appealing from a recruiting and alumni standpoint and there’s direct flights from El Paso to Atlanta.”

Conference USA is in the process of renegotiating its media rights deal, which expires at the end of the 2022-23 season. A combination of Stadium, Facebook, ESPN+ and CBS Sports Network have the broadcast rights for C-USA until then and the league is currently in talks to improve that.

Sources told KTSM that Conference USA is nearing a point where it could close the deal on a new media right package for the league. As one of 10 FBS conferences with a shot at the College Football Playoff, C-USA could be looked at by FCS programs as the spot to go, if they want to rise to the FBS level.

However, Moccia reiterated what Senter said, in that the league could be willing to stand pat at 10 teams for the time being.

“If I were to speculate, now that a 10th member has come on, there will be a bit of a pause in taking a look at what else might make sense. But I wouldn’t think anything else is imminent after this announcement,” Moccia said.