The Associated Press first reported the plan. A spokesperson for the University of Delaware later confirmed Tuesday afternoon the school accepted an invitation to join Conference USA as a full-league member effective July 1, 2025.
A press conference officially announcing the move will be held on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
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After being raided by the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt the past two years, Conference USA re-constituted in 2023 as a nine-team league, including former Championship Subdivision schools Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State.
Delaware has a rich football history, having produced Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco and 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon. The Blue Hens currently play in the Coastal Athletic Association.
"Where we set from a recruiting footprint, from the facilities I mentioned, the history, the fanbase. This is a place that belongs at the FBS level," Rawak said. "Oh it’s a significant deal, if you will. I mean not just for athletics but for the university and for our state and our community.”
The move to Conference USA will allow more people in more locations to watch the school's sports teams due to ESPN carrying the conference's games.
“With ESPN and ESPN plus and the opportunities that joining conference US provides to us, I mean its 40 times the number of viewers now for football and for basketball," Rawak said.
Delaware's most recent FCS title came in 2003, and it has reached the championship game twice since then. The Blue Hens beat Lafayette last weekend in the FCS playoffs. Coach Ryan Carty's team plays at Montana in the second round this weekend.
The CAA, which changed its name earlier this year from the Colonial Athletic Association, had 15 teams in football this season. The league lost James Madison after the 2021 season, and the Dukes' transition to the FBS has gone so well they reached the Top 25 this year.
Massachusetts, Old Dominion and Georgia State are a few other ex-CAA programs that now play in the FBS.
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.