Middle Tennessee leaving Sun Belt for Conference USA

Middle Tennessee has accepted an offer to join Conference USA and is leaving the Sun Belt, a person familiar with the situation

said Wednesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on

condition of anonymity because neither conference nor Middle Tennessee

had publically

announced the decision. The Virginian-Pilot first reported the

move.

It is unclear when Middle Tennessee will join the conference. The school announced it will hold a news conference on campus

Thursday but did not say what it was in regards to.

The Blue Raiders (8-3), who lost 27-21 to McNeese State in their season opener, play Arkansas State on Saturday for the Sun Belt Conference championship.

The move is the latest domino to fall in conference realignment.

Tulane and East Carolina announced Tuesday they are leaving Conference USA to join the Big East. The Green Wave will be full

Big East members; the Pirates football only.

League officials announced in May that

Conference USA was adding five new schools in 2013: Charlotte, Florida

International,

Louisiana Tech, North Texas and UT-San Antonio. Charlotte will

begin participating in conference football in 2015. Old Dominion

is joining C-USA in 2014.

In Middle Tennessee, C-USA is getting the largest public university in the state of Tennessee. The school is located just

30 miles southeast of the Nashville media market in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Middle Tennessee jumped from Division I-AA in 1999 in football, and the Blue Raiders have played in three bowls since 2005.

The Blue Raiders received votes in The

Associated Press men's basketball poll last season with coach Kermit

Davis earning

a five-year extension and finished with a school-record 27 wins.

The women's basketball team has reached the NCAA tournament

four straight years and 15 times overall.