West Virginia men’s soccer just got a lot closer to its in-state rival as the program is set to join Conference USA for the fall 2022 season.
The Mountaineers, who currently compete in the MAC, will become an affiliate member of C-USA, which announced the move on Monday. They will compete against nine other schools in the league, including Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Old Dominion, UAB and defending national champion Marshall. Kentucky and South Carolina are also affiliate members of C-USA, like WVU.
“Conference USA will be the new home for our men’s soccer program in 2022, and I think it’s a great and positive move for Dan Stratford as he builds our program,” said West Virginia Director of Athletics Shane Lyons. “Nine years ago, our men’s soccer program needed a new home and the Mid-American Conference served us well. We look forward to competing in the MAC for one more year and then turning our attention to a new challenge. I want to thank Commissioner Judy MacLeod and the conference athletic directors for the invitation and for welcoming West Virginia men’s soccer into C-USA.”
Both of WVU’s non-conference opponents in its 2021 spring slate were from C-USA. The Mountaineers opened their season in February with a 3-0 beating of Charlotte, who finished second in the league at 6-3-2 (6-1 C-USA). In March, the Mountaineers hosted then-No. 8 Marshall, upsetting the Thundering Herd 1-0 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
“As we continue to build upon this year’s national championship in men’s soccer and a very deep and talented lineup of teams, we are pleased to welcome another traditionally strong program in West Virginia to enhance one of our conference’s most successful sports,” said C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod.
West Virginia men’s soccer has found itself in an interesting position since the University joined the Big 12 Conference in 2011. While many of the athletic departments’ programs had homes already carved out in the new league, the Big 12 happened to lack men’s soccer.
The Mountaineers, then led by gaffer Marlon LeBlanc, joined the Mid-American Conference, where they would compete from 2012-21, amassing a conference record of 14-18-7 and an overall mark of 75-61-15.
“We’re very excited by the news and our conference realignment for the fall of 2022,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “I must thank Shane Lyons, Simon Dover and the rest of our administration for their help, support, and foresight in our program’s transition. Conference USA has quickly become a men’s soccer powerhouse, with so many reputable schools that have a strong tradition. Our program’s ambition is to compete with the very best in the country, and we believe that Conference USA provides us the platform to do that.”