Senior Columnist

Middle Tennessee, FAU will join Conference USA for '13 season

Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic will leave the Sun Belt Conference this year, a season earlier than expected, CBSSports.com has learned. The two schools will join Conference USA on July 1. A formal announcement is expected next week.

That will leave the Sun Belt with eight teams for 2013, making it the smallest conference in FBS. Conference USA will have 14 members in '13.

Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic announced in November they were headed to Conference USA for the 2014 season. The Sun Belt will fill in but not until '14 at the earliest. Most of the speculation centers around rising FCS programs Georgia Southern and Appalachian State from the Southern Conference. New Mexico State, an independent in '13, may also be a possibility.

Middle Tennessee just completed its 13th season in the Sun Belt. Florida Atlantic joined in 2005.

News of the move was first reported by ESPN.com.

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