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2013 it is

Updated 5:55 p.m. FAU will play in Conference USA beginning in the fall 2013, will pay $700,000 Sun Belt buyout.

Originally published on 1/22/2013

by Chuck King

In a move that can hardly be classified as unexpected, FAU made it official today by announcing that the Owls will make the move to Conference USA in the fall of 2013, a year earlier than originally expected.

FAU made the announcement via a press release.

“Florida Atlantic University is excited to be joining Conference USA beginning in the 2013-14 season,” FAU President Mary Jane Saunders said in the release. “Membership in Conference USA provides FAU with increased national exposure and a wide range of opportunities. The league’s television partnerships, large footprint and bowl tie-ins will expose our student-athletes to new experiences as they compete against schools across 10 states and in several of the top media markets in the country. Conference USA has a history of athletic success and FAU is honored to be associated with the great institutions that define the league.” first reported that a move in 2013 was a possibility back in November.

One of the final hurdles in the move was cleared earlier in the day when Sun Belt Conference negotiated a buyout deal that would require FAU to pay a $700,000 fee to leave the conference early, Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson confirmed.

There would not have been an exit fee had the Owls chosen to wait until 2014 to make the move. Benson had been trying to get FAU to pay a $1 million exit fee, but he said the Sun Belt's Board of Governors "reluctantly decided" to accept less in order to get moving with league football schedules.

Middle Tennessee also announced they were moving to C-USA for the start of the 2013 season, leaving the Sun Belt a year early, too. The Blue Raiders and the Owls received their invitation to join C-USA on the same day.

“Florida Atlantic University is a rising star, a dynamic and growing university in a wonderful place,” Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in the release. “They are a great fit and we are so pleased to have them on board next season.”

North Carolina-Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech,North Texas,Old Dominion and Texas-San Antonio will also begin competition in Conference USA in 2013.They will join current C-USA members East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Tulsa, University Alabama-Birmingham and Texas El Paso.

East Carolina and Tulane are scheduled to move to the Big East following the 2013-14 season.

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