Sources: Old Dominion & Southern Miss Join Sun Belt; Marshall, JMU to Join in Coming Days
Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Old Dominion Monarchs wide receiver Noah Robinson (23).
Old Dominion became the second Conference USA school to officially join the Sun Belt on Tuesday, sources told The Action Network, with the expectation two more schools will also soon join the conference.
On Friday, The Action Network reported Southern Miss had officially been added to the Sun Belt. USM held a press conference Tuesday, formally announcing its move to the Sun Belt.
Old Dominion, which transitioned from FCS to FBS in 2013, has been a Conference USA member since 2014. The Monarchs’ best season came in 2016 — a 10-3 season and the school’s only bowl appearance, a 24-20 victory over Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl.
ODU is expected to formally announce the move with a Thursday news conference, sources said.
Old Dominion is the latest school to leave Conference USA — six to the American and two (for now) to the Sun Belt — with Marshall also expected to move to the Sun Belt in the coming days, sources said. The Sun Belt also is expected to add James Madison, which will make the move from the FCS ranks.
The new Sun Belt schools will begin play in their new conference by 2023.
While USM and ODU are officially on board, Marshall and James Madison have not officially applied for Sun Belt membership yet, but that is simply considered a formality, sources said.
Marshall, James Madison Moves to Sun Belt are Imminent
The addition of Marshall to the Sun Belt likely won’t be official for possibly another week or so, pending the naming of the school’s new president.
Last Friday, Patrick Farrell, the chair for Marshall’s Board of Governors, tweeted the school would name a new president next Thursday.
“We’re going to wait until the new president has a chance to provide input before making a decision about our athletics conference affiliation,” Farrell wrote in a tweet. “We’re confident we are in a great position.”
Sun Belt Will Have 14-Team Football League by 2023
The addition of USM, ODU, JMU and Marshall will give the Sun Belt a 14-team football league in 2023.
East Division member Troy is expected to move to the West Division, along with Southern Miss. The remaining West Division schools are Arkansas State, Louisiana, South Alabama, Texas State and UL Monroe.
New members Marshall, Old Dominion and James Madison will compete in the East Division with Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State and Georgia Southern.
Last year, the Sun Belt was the only Group of Five league that finished with two football teams ranked in the top 15 of the final Associated Press poll.
Non-football playing Sun Belt members Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington will no longer be league members by the 2023 season, sources said.