Conference USA is an all-sports conference that competes in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision. The conference has fallen victim to realignment and has featured more turnover than most NCAA conferences with only two original members remaining.
Conference USA was created in 1995 upon the merger of the Metro Conference and the Great Midwest Conference (Virginia Tech, VCU, and Dayton excluded). The merger added six teams from the Great Midwest and five teams from the Metro. The first year would be played as a non-football league as only five of the first 11 member had football programs. Football would start in 1996 as Houston fulfilled its commitment to join Conference USA following the dissolution of its then-current conference, the Southwest Conference.
Conference USA would rapidly expand after its formation as it added East Carolina and Army as football-only members in 1997 and 1998 respectively. A year later, UAB, a current conference member, upgraded its football program to the FBS level and began Conference USA play. South Florida would do the same in 2003, but before that happened, TCU became a full member in 2001, the same year that East Carolina moved all of its sports teams to the conference.
Despite the expansion, the league continued happily until 2005. In that year, realignment struck with the Big East, who lost three members to the ACC, stole three football members, Cincinnati, Louisville, and South Florida, and two non-football members, Marquette and DePaul. TCU departed to the Mounatin West that same year, and since Conference USA passed new bylaws requiring a football team following the losses, Charlotte and St. Louis were both forced to join the A-10. In order to offset the losses, Conference USA added four members from the WAC and two members from the MAC.
In 2005, the "new" Conference USA split into two divisions for football with a postseason championship game. The conference continued like this for several years with moderate success until realignment once again struck the league. The Big East once again took from the league in 2013, taking 4 members. Conference USA added eight members, 6 of which would be ready to play football immediately, that same year. In 2013, 16 teams competed in basketball while 14 teams competed in football. When the American Conference, the reincarnated Big East, took three Conference USA members in 2014, the league only had to add one member, Western Kentucky. UAB announced in Decembers 2014 that they would disband their football team only to announce in June 2015 that they had decided to reinstate it.