Patrick Magee

C-USA tourney back in Biloxi for ’18, Southern Miss president gets prominent role

Southern Miss second baseman Matthew Guidry throws to first after putting out Rice's Charlie Warren during the third inning of their C-USA tournament championship game at MGM Park in Biloxi on May 28.
Southern Miss second baseman Matthew Guidry throws to first after putting out Rice's Charlie Warren during the third inning of their C-USA tournament championship game at MGM Park in Biloxi on May 28. File

Southern Miss should have a little more influence on the future of Conference USA following news that came out of last week's board of directors meeting in Destin, Florida.

USM president Rodney Bennett was announced this week as the new chair of the C-USA Board of Directors. Louisiana Tech's Les Guice will serve as vice chair.

There may be no program in C-USA that holds similar interests to USM more than Louisiana Tech. Culturally, they are similar. The two schools also happen to be at the bottom of the conference when it comes to athletic budgets.

USM, which ranks 13th in the conference in terms of budget size, has a budget of approximately $24 million while La. Tech checks in at $22.2 million, according to USA Today.

The fact that Bennett and Guice will lead the board of directors will probably have little impact on either school, but they both understand the challenge of facing the increasing cost of college athletics.

MTSU president Sidney McPhee, Charlotte chancellor Phil DuBois and Marshall's Jerry Gilbert make up the rest of C-USA's executive committee.

MGM Park return

The drama surrounding Biloxi Baseball and Overtime Sports doesn't appear to be settling down anytime soon, but that didn't stop C-USA officials from returning the conference's baseball tournament to MGM Park in Biloxi for the 2018 season.

The conference confirmed championship sites for 2017-18 with Biloxi again set to play host to the C-USA baseball tournament for a second consecutive season on May 23-27. A deal is in place to keep the event in Biloxi for at least three years.

By almost all accounts, the first year of the C-USA tournament in Biloxi was a success. A total of 21,267 fans showed up over five days at MGM Park, including a C-USA record crowd of 5,216 fans for the title game featuring Southern Miss and Rice.

Southern Miss beat UTSA 7-1 to advance to C-USA semifinals.

Tim Bennett of Overtime Sports filed suit against Biloxi Shuckers owner Ken Young and Biloxi Baseball last month, arguing in part that they were interfering with negotiations with potential clients, including C-USA.

Young filed a counter lawsuit this week alleging that Overtime Sports-produced events have been poorly organized and that Overtime Sports owes Biloxi Baseball money. His attorneys are requesting that until a trial is held, Biloxi Baseball or the City of Biloxi should approve and manage outside events at MGM Park rather than Overtime Sports.

USM football on TV

C-USA released its preliminary football TV schedule for 2017 earlier this month and Southern Miss fans should be prepared to fire up their Twitter accounts if they want to catch four games.

CBS Sports Network will carry the season opener when Kentucky travels to USM for a 3 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 2. Also, the Sept. 16 game at Louisiana-Monroe will be available on ESPN3.

The four other contests set to be televised will all be on Stadium, a new network created via the merger of American Sports Network, Campus Insiders and 120 Sports. The USM games on Stadium are Southern on Sept. 9, UTEP on Oct. 14, a road game at Louisiana Tech on Oct. 21 and the season-ending road contest at Marshall on Nov. 25.

Stadium will carry some of the more prominent C-USA non-conference games including Houston-UTSA on Sept. 2 and North Carolina-Old Dominion on Sept. 16.

Stadium will stream live 24/7 on Twitter, but that won't be the only place that the multi-platform digital network will be available.

Stadium will replace Campus Insiders in the Sling TV lineup as part of the Sports Extra package. If you order the Sling Orange ($19.99) and Sports Extra ($5) packages, that costs you a total of $24.99 a month as part of a subscription that you can cancel at any time. The Sports Extra package also includes beIN Sports, which will continue to carry C-USA football and basketball games this season.

Sling TV is available via download on most streaming devices, including Roku and Chromecast.