Aug. 20, 2004 wire reports

Conference USA athletic directors have voted unanimously to recommend holding the league's inaugural football championship game in 2005.

The recommendation made Thursday now goes before the league's board of directors.

The game would feature champions from two divisions. East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UAB and Central Florida will compete in the East Division and Houston, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, and UTEP will play in the West.

The team with the highest conference winning percentage would host the championship game.

"We also feel there are a number of advantages to the schools and the host community," Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini said. "This format is not only the best method to determine our champion, but will provide excellent media exposure for the schools and the community, including the economic impact a game like this creates."

Conference USA would become one of five Division I-A conferences to hold a football championship game. The Big 12, Southeastern Conference and Mid-American Conference currently play football championship games, and the Atlantic Coast Conference will add a championship game in 2005.

Next year, Conference USA will add six schools: Marshall, Rice, SMU, Tulsa, UCF and UTEP.

Current members Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida are moving to the Big East in 2005.

The Associated Press News Service

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