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).