HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ No report has linked the University of Southern Mississippi and the vacancy in the American Athletic Conference created by the abdication of the University of Connecticut.
Which is not to say that USM would not be willing to consider other options than standing pat in Conference USA.
“We’re proud members of Conference USA, founding members of Conference USA, so it’s always going to be important to us, the health of the conference, how the conference grows” USM athletic director Jeremy McClain said Friday afternoon during a wide-ranging conversation with WDAM-TV. “I think we’ve been a huge part of that, and we’re very proud of that.
“But I will also say that we’re never going to pass up an opportunity to put our student-athletes and this institution in the best position possible to be successful, to raise our profile and continue to grow.”
Whether that would be in a conference containing members of great familiarity to USM and its fanbase, or some other cataclysmic reorganization down the road remains to be seen.
Commissioner Mike Aresco indicated in a recent interview that his ACC constituents are in no rush at the moment to round out the membership and are quite content to move forward in the short term with 11 teams.
With the loss of UConn, AAC members include former USM brethren, University of Cincinnati, University of Memphis, Tulane University, East Carolina University, Southern Methodist University, University of Houston, University of Tulsa, University of South Florida and University of Central Florida, as well as Temple University and Wichita State University.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” McClain said of the AAC’s future plans specifically and college football’s makeup in the long run. “But I can tell if there’s an opportunity to put ourselves in a better position, we’re going to make sure we take every opportunity to do that.”