The sharp departure of Old Dominion, Marshall and the Southern Queen from the USA Conference to the Sunbelt Conference has been completed, the latter announced Tuesday in a joint statement with the three schools.
Schools are officially heading to the Sun Belt for the 2022 football season, ending a series of legal wrangling that included court orders to delay arbitration.
The terms of the separation agreement were not disclosed. By leaving at the end of this school year, Old Dominion, Marshall, and Southern Miss have broken Conference USA bylaws that require 14 months’ notice before leaving the league.
That caused legal issues, which came into focus after the Sun Belt actually put the three schools on the 2022 football league schedule when it was released on March 1.
This means that Conference USA will play with 11 members next season. A timetable reflecting the league’s new structure is expected to be released soon.
Sources told ESPN that the odds-numbered programs prompted the league to petition the NCAA for health and safety reasons to play two soccer games in Week 0 in 2022. Because of the odds number of teams, there is too much fear the league must play for more than two consecutive months without saying goodbye. Playing in week 0 would help get rid of that.
“Conference USA is excited about the future with our 11 institutions in the 2022-23 school year, and is committed to the long-term growth of the league as new members enter in the coming years,” Conference USA said in a statement. .
More change is on the way for Conference USA, although the timing is uncertain. Six more schools are heading to the American Athletic Conference – North Texas, Rice, UTSA, Charlotte, FAU and UAB. The USA Congress has already announced the addition of Jacksonville, Liberty, New Mexico, and the Order of Houston.
The Sun Belt will have 14 players in the league next season, James Madison added in recent months.
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