The conference may start as early as 2013-14.
The MWC/C-USA will have a regional/divisional makeup of the current membership of the two leagues and will likely include 18 to 24 universities.
The two sides held a Sunday meeting.
"This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast," UNLV president Neal Smatresk said in a statement. "This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics. "We are moving our plans forward rapidly and expect to complete our conversations in the near future. Look for further announcements soon as we work together on this exciting new venture." C-USA just lost Memphis to the Big East. C-USA had already seen SMU, Houston and Central Florida depart for the Big East.
The remaining C-USA members for the 2013-14 season are: Southern Miss, Tulsa, Marshall, Rice, UTEP, UAB, Tulane and East Carolina.
The MWC lost Boise State and San Diego State to the Big East in football and the WAC and Big West in all other sports while TCU is leaving to be an all-sports member in the Big 12.
The MWC is adding WAC members Fresno State and Nevada next season as well as Hawaii in only football (the Warriors will play all other sports in the Big West).
That leaves the MWC with UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State and Air Force.
The newly named league would have a membership in 2013-14 that includes at minumum UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, Hawaii (in football only), Southern Miss, Tulsa, Marshall, Rice, UTEP, UAB, Tulane, East Carolina, Nevada and Fresno State.
Boise State has been approached about joining the Big East in 2012-13 instead of the following year but the Broncos haven't made a decision. The WAC would take the Broncos in all other sports a year early but hasn't been asked to do so yet, according to multiple sources.
This move would be in response to a pending West Virginia departure, two seasons early, to the Big 12.
The Big East is losing Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC, but maybe not until 2014.
Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com.