With four Conference USA teams, the Houston Cougars, SMU Mustangs, Memphis Tigers and Central Florida Knights, all leaving for the Big East, the conference was looking to reload their conference when a proposed merger of their conference and the Mountain West Conference fell through.
FIU joined the Sun Belt Conference in 1998. During their time in the conference, the football team made two bowl appearances and won one conference title in 2010 when they went 6-2 in the conference. Last season, the Golden Panthers went 8-5 overall, 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference. They also made the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, losing to the Marshall Thundering Herd 20-10.