Old Dominion leaving Conference USA for the Sun Belt
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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) Old Dominion announced Wednesday it has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023.
The addition of the Monarchs comes two days after the Sun Belt formally announced Southern Mississippi's intention to join the conference.
ODU has played for seven seasons in Conference USA, which now has eight of its 14 members with plans in place to exit the league in the next few years.
"Joining the Sun Belt Conference is a game-changer for Old Dominion University and our athletic program," school president Brian Hemphill said in a statement. "We are excited about the expanded opportunities and limitless possibilities now and well into the future."
Athletic director Wood Selig thanked Conference USA for helping the Monarchs transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision, but said "the chance to enhance the overall athletic experience for the student-athletes, fans and alumni of ODU in the SBC with regional rivalries represents the perfect opportunity for the continued growth and evolution of ODU athletic programs in our pursuit of national prominence."
ODU will compete in the Sun Belt in all sports except field rowing, lacrosse (American Athletic Conference) and field hockey (Big East).
The Sun Belt currently has 12 schools, 10 that play major college football. ODU will expand the conference into Virginia, and the New Orleans-based league doesn't appear to be done adding members.
According to reports, the Sun Belt is working to add Huntington, West Virginia-based Marshall, another Conference USA school, and FCS power James Madison, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Last week, the American Athletic Conference announced it was adding six C-USA schools at a date to be determined.
C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a statement that the Dallas-based conference was working to rebuild it ranks and could turn to FCS schools or FBS independents as replacements for departing members.
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Updated October 27, 2021