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Conference USA, a new 12-school league made up primarily from the Great Midwest and Metro Conferences, will begin basketball competition in '95-96. The schools include: UAB, Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Memphis, St. Louis, Louisville, UNC-Charlotte, So. Mississippi, South Florida and Tulane. Houston will begin play in '96-97. The first conference tournament will be held in Memphis, and receive an automatic NCAA bid in '97. The league picked Michael Slive from the Great Midwest as its commissioner (Rick Gano, AP/FORT WORTH STAR- TELEGRAM, 4/25). ESPN and Conference USA announced a multi-year agreement granting ESPN, ESPN2 and Creative Sports exclusive rights for national broadcast network, national and regional cable and syndication of all men's basketball games beginning this season (ESPN). The ESPN deal is reportedly for six years. Liberty Sports and the conference have already agreed on a 5-year football package. Slive said revenue from the TV packages will "exceed" $30M (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/25).
Carquest Corp., the sponsor of the Carquest Bowl for the past two years, has renewed its sponsorship for the next three years. The bowl will be held on December 30 at Joe Robbie Stadium and be telecast by TBS. The title sponsorship agreement was negotiated by Raycom, which has managed the bowl since creating the event in '90. This year's bowl will match Big East's No. 3 team against either the ACC's No. 4 or the SEC's No. 5 team (Raycom).