The conference's five departing teams have been solid this year - only SMU currently holds a losing record - but outside of Memphis, they account for just one NCAA tournament berth since C-USA began in 1996. Houston made the 2010 tournament.
Bolstering the league's basketball roster was part of the plan for C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky when the conference realignment craze forced him to snatch teams from other conferences.
"Basketball was a foundation piece for the conference," he said. "It goes way, way back. As we balance the realignment, we want to make sure we're competitive in all our programs, but men's basketball is critically important."
Conference USA once was home to hoops stalwarts like Cincinnati, Marquette and Louisville. While this new batch of schools doesn't match that trio for star power, Banowsky hopes it will reinforce the conference's depth. That's a different strategy from many of the conferences poaching teams during realignment.
Those leagues often have football in the front of their minds. The football-first mentality of what was once called the Big East spurred the conference's Catholic schools to break away, form their own league and buy the Big East name.
Banowsky said it's obvious football has been the driver during realignment.
"It's too bad, because we've really contorted our system in a damaging way, frankly," Banowsky said. "But I think things will settle down, we'll be able to move forward and having men's basketball as a very important centerpiece is critical."
Gillen also is disappointed with basketball taking a backseat in realignment, robbing the sport of rivalries like Kansas-Missouri and possibly Georgetown-Syracuse.
"I think it's sad," he said. "It's all about money. The term 'student-athlete' in a lot of ways should be thrown in the ocean. It's just athletes at schools. Everything is done for money now, and that's unfortunate."
That's why he's hopeful Conference USA's moves will lead to a solid, deep basketball conference, much like it was in the beginning. And that's Banowsky's plan. From 1996 to 2005 there was only one season where C-USA didn't have three NCAA tournament entrants. It might not be easy - look at West Virginia's struggles in moving from Big East to Big 12 basketball - but Gillen feels the new members will get their feet under them sooner than later.
"I think these teams will adjust quickly," Gillen said. "A lot of them have terrific programs. I think they'll adjust very well. They have great traditions."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.