As expected, the University of Delaware will join Conference USA as a full-league member effective on July 1, 2025.
Reports of the change surfaced on Monday.
“UD ranks among the nation’s leading public research institutions and is recognized nationally for delivering exceptional professional outcomes for our students,” University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis said. “Joining Conference USA will present opportunities to not only broaden exposure of our athletics programs, but also enhance awareness and visibility of our excellent academic offerings, our ground-breaking research initiatives, and our enduring impact on our community and the world.”
The Blue Hens will compete in Conference USA in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, track & field, and volleyball. It will pay $5 million to join NCAA Division 1 (FCS).
“The opportunity to join Conference USA is a very proud moment for our entire university,” Director of Athletics, Community, and Campus Recreation Chrissi Rawak said. “With this step forward, we will continue to offer an incredible student-athlete experience and elevate the visibility of all that is remarkable about UD. We couldn’t be more excited for the entire state of Delaware and how this will bring the 302 together.”
All UD varsity programs will remain in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) through the 2024-2025 season, with all sports except football maintaining eligibility to compete for conference championships and NCAA postseason play.
Under NCAA rules, football will not be eligible for a conference title or the FCS playoffs once the transition process begins at the conclusion of this season.
In the 2024 season, football will have an FCS schedule that will be announced in the coming months. In 2025, football will compete in Conference USA, and will be eligible for a Conference USA regular season championship. In 2026, football will be eligible to compete in the Conference USA Championship game and a bowl game.
Founded in 1995 and based in Dallas, Conference USA has nine schools: Florida International, Jacksonville State, Liberty, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Sam Houston University of Texas at El Paso, and Western Kentucky. Kennesaw State joins the league in 2024 and Delaware begins competition in 2025.
“This is a very exciting time for the University of Delaware,” Board of Trustees Chair Terri L. Kelly said. “President Assanis and Chrissi Rawak have our full support as they guide our Blue Hens into this new chapter for UD Athletics.”
UD is currently a member of the Coastal Athletic Association, formerly Colonial, a second-tier conference for football.
The university has been upgrading its athletic facilities in anticipation of joining the major college ranks.