By Joe Quillen
Delaware Fighting’ Blue Hens
Sometimes you wake up to news that makes you say “Wow!” when you roll out of bed. Even in my case as a Drexel alumnus, that was the scenario when I saw on Tuesday morning that the University of Delaware will be leaving the Coastal Athletic Association (formerly the Colonial Athletic Association) for Conference USA. That move will correspond with the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens transitioning their football program from FCS (formerly I-AA) to FBS.
As a result of the announced move, Delaware will not be eligible for a CAA championship or an FCS postseason berth in the 2024-25 academic year for football. However, the Blue Hens will be able to compete for championships in all other sports. Also with this announcement, Delaware owes about $6 million to the NCAA in entry and exit fees. Most have been raised so far by the athletics department already.
As of July 1, 2025, Conference USA will have 11 full-time members stretching three time zones from New Mexico to Delaware. Kennesaw State University, who will move from the Atlantic Sun conference, joins C-USA this upcoming July 1.
The move for football alone should help Delaware football just on visibility. Delaware football, which currently is shown on FloSports, an online streaming service, could potentially be shown on the ESPN family of networks, their streaming service ESPN+, and even on CBS Sports Network. Delaware Athletic Director Chrissi Rawak estimated in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer that Delaware has the potential of 40 times the visibility they currently get on FloSports.
The travel may not be as taxing as you would think either. In most cases right now in the CAA, travel is done by buses. When the transition to C-USA is compete, there will be options to get from point A to point B, as they are between two major airports, Philadelphia International Airport, which is about 30 minutes to the northeast, and Baltimore which is about 45 minutes to the southwest.
I am not going to be naïve here, but there will be times where the student-athlete will not be in the classroom, But there may be an opportunity where the student-athletes in some cases won’t have to leave as early for a game because the program will have air travel at their disposal.
Also, I think this could start a new backyard rivalry as well. Remember I said that 30-minute drive up I-95 to get to PHL? Well, about 5 to 10 minutes beyond that is Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Temple Owls’ football team. Mayhe this is something we will see in the future?
But this is an opportunity for Delaware to grow its athletics department. But it may be a bit odd for Delaware fans, alumni and sports fans in general, especially the first few years of their membership in C-USA to see a conference matchup in Newark between Delaware and New Mexico State or UTEP, but it should be the step forward that will lead their fanbase to say “Wow!” as they begin their journey as a member of Conference USA and an FBS member come 2025.