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Oct. 28, 2004

DALLAS, Texas – The University of South Carolina has accepted an invitation to become an affiliate member of Conference USA in men’s soccer beginning in the 2005 season, Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced Thursday. Currently an independent, this marks South Carolina’s first conference affiliation since a stint in the Metro Conference from 1993-94.

“We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to join an outstanding soccer league in Conference USA,” said head coach Mark Berson, who is in his 27th season at USC. “The quality of the teams is excellent across the board and this will provide our student-athletes with a chance to compete at a very high level nationally, week in and week out. The quality of coaches and teams in Conference-USA is excellent, and we look forward to developing new rivalries and relationships with these programs.”

USC, the University of Kentucky and Florida International University will join current members East Carolina, UAB and Memphis, as well as incoming members Marshall, SMU, Tulsa and Central Florida to form the 10-team league next season. The teams will play a nine-game, round-robin schedule.

South Carolina senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator Val Sheley believes that both parties will benefit from the affiliation.

“Conference USA has a very strong reputation nationally in men’s soccer,” Sheley said. “We believe this affiliation will not only strengthen our program but it will strengthen their league as well. It will provide additional opportunity for national exposure as well as great competition.”

USC has made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances in the 27-year history of the program, including 10 since 1990, and has advanced to the Final Four twice (1988 and 1993).

Only three member schools in the Southeastern Conference compete in men’s soccer (South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt).