Southern Miss, Marshall, and ODU to join Sun Belt July 1

By Brian Wilmer -

Southern Miss, Marshall, and Old Dominion will join the Sun Belt effective July 1, 2022, Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported Friday.

As McMurphy mentioned, James Madison will also join the circuit on July 1.

The conference divisions will break down this way, per McMurphy:

West:  Arkansas State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, Texas State, Southern Miss, Troy

East:  Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, James Madison, Marshall, ODU

Old Dominion released a statement earlier Friday regarding its departure from Conference USA. The statement indicates, in part:

Old Dominion University will terminate its membership in Conference USA effective June 30, 2022. The University will not participate in Conference USA during the 2022-23 season. This decision comes after considering the best interests of the University and the Monarch family, including our 500 student-athletes and hundreds of thousands of alumni and fans.

The University first advised the Conference in early December 2021 of the University’s plans to terminate its membership in June 2022. Since then, the University has clearly and consistently repeated its intentions to the Conference. The University offered to cooperate with the Conference to ensure that all remaining C-USA members had complete competitive schedules for those sports in which the University competes. The Conference refuses to discuss such an arrangement with the University. The remaining members of Conference USA deserve certainty about their schedules as they plan for competition next year. For their sake, the University makes public its intent.

Southern Miss released a similar statement, with this addendum:

The Conference’s unwillingness to discuss the concept of separation this year creates confusion and doubt for all concerned. The remaining members of Conference USA deserve certainty about their schedules as they plan for competition next year. For their sake, the University makes public its intent.

More details on this move will be shared as they become available.

Football Schedules

Comments (14)

Eastern Kentucky and Stephen F. Austin should be next to join the SBC

Then the conference could stage these games on Thanksgiving weekend every year:

Appalachian State-Coastal Carolina
Arkansas State-Southern Miss
Eastern Kentucky-Marshall
Georgia Southern-Georgia State
James Madison-Old Dominion
South Alabama-Troy,
Stephen F. Austin-Texas State

I don’t know if EKU wants to jump into the Sun Belt anymore. They got passed over by the SBC when they scooped Coastal a few years back. Maybe I’m wrong, but I know that snub hurts.

the idea of a 16-team G5 conference sounds tantalizing

we’re already getting a 16-team P5 conference

The intent of Sun Belt Conference’s expansion was to enhance and strengthen their conference’s football competition, in hope of garnering a more generous TV contract. As a result, they added three established FBS schools (Marshall, ODU and Southern Miss.) and (because there was no other FBS program available) one of strongest FCS program (JMU). How would adding two more, mediocre at best, FCS programs enhance or insure their efforts?

Just have Southern Miss-Marshall instead and Ark/Tx States. Add no one and it works for season ending rivalry games. Southern Miss probably has the longest history with Marshall anyway.

I agree with no more FCS additions. Not thrilled about most recent ones to CUSA. If they really want to add more regional schools to Sun Belt, Liberty and Louisiana Tech fit the mold, and accomplish the season ending rivalries you crave.

App. St.-CCU
Ga. St.-Ga. Southern

Troy-South Alabama
Southern Miss-Louisiana
Louisiana Monroe-La. Tech
Tex. St.-Ark. St.

I want the Sun Belt to have no more than two schools per state. So Louisiana Tech and Liberty are out. Plus there’s the animosity between LT and ULM.

If the Sun Belt ever expands to 16, they’ll add Sam Houston and Jacksonville State if C-USA disbands like the Southwest Conference did nearly 30 years ago.
This would only happen IF the Big 12 decides to add Memphis and/or SMU in 2025, which would lead the AAC to add LT. WKU & MTSU could go to the MAC, UTEP to the Mountain West, Liberty back to the A-Sun and FBS independence. The only questions are NMSU and FIU–NMSU is good at men’s basketball, which might be good enough for them to get a MW invite, but if that doesn’t happen, then NMSU would probably just go back to the WAC and remain an FBS independent. I think FIU would only get an invite from the AAC if the Big 12 takes Memphis AND SMU from the AAC–if that doesn’t happen, FIU would probably join Liberty in the A-Sun and FBS independence.

Seems like a tacky move to breach their contract. I actually feel bad for Louisiana Tech. They always get the raw end of every conference realignment.

Plus with an Eastern Kentucky-Marshall game, you could invoke the Hatfield-McCoy feud of the 19th century, as the same states are being represented.

This is on C-USA for not discussing the means of separation with the aforementioned schools when Marshall, Southern Miss and ODU were trying to do so. I’m not saying that the schools might’ve been looking for a loophole to leave the conference early had C-USA ignored their requests, but I can’t rule it out.

I doubt that the early separation issue even enters a courtroom.

To the actual football issue, I believe Coastal Carolina wins the SBC with a returning head coach and quarterback. That’s even with Marshall, Southern Miss, ODU and James Madison joining this year. I’m looking forward to the new arrivals in the SBC, it will be interesting and James Madison could be a bit of a spoiler in their first year.