US conference faces exodus from Old Dominion, Marshall, Southern Mississippi


Conference USA will not look the same next year.

Conference USA will not look the same next year.
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I know, I know – college football is far from our collective mind right now, with Super Bowl Sunday this past week and March Madness fast approaching. But the best kind of drama is CFB drama, and the best kind of CFB drama is Group or 5 drama.

The conference rescheduling in the Big 12 and SEC this year has had a trickle down effect on the Group of 5, and Conference USA was especially gutted by the rescheduling round in late 2021. The conference was largely able to recover from initial departures, but last week, three C-US schools that originally planned to leave after the 2022-2023 school year announced their intention to move to the Sun Belt this summer.

In statements from Old Dominion, Marshall and Southern Mississippi, the schools indicated that they had discussed this early departure with conference representatives, who were not receptive to the idea. Earlier this week, C-USA released its 2022 football schedule at the conference — and it includes those three schools, which have absolutely no intention of participating in the conference next fall.

C-USA has also announced it plans to take legal action to ensure the three schools remain in their conference for the 2022 football season, despite the schools’ public statements against staying. There does not appear to be a financial penalty that schools would have to pay for early departures apart from a standard exit fee, but there is a clause in the conference bylaws that requires schools to give 14 months’ notice before leaving the conference. However, there is no actual consequence attached to this clause – it just says they can’t do it.

The contractual clause means that, if push comes to shove – and it appears it could – C-USA could take legal action against the schools. The Big East sued West Virginia in 2011 for breach of contract when they tried to leave for the Big 12, and the case was eventually settled for $20 million, which the Big 12 and West Virginia paid to the Big East. Big East Football shut down a year after the lawsuit was settled — not a great omen for C-USA, which may feel their demise soon approaching as contracts are thrown on the curb and the AAC and Sun Belt make their pick (nine schools left the conference this month). year only).

The Sun Belt won’t be able to release their conference schedule until this matter is settled – if they get the three schools involved, they could be involved in a potential lawsuit from C-USA, and if they don’t, they may have to do so later in the year. some major adjustments.

Of course, it’s not exactly at the level of Texas and OU that leave for the SEC from scratch, and few of these schools will ever make a national splash (although one outgoing member is the nationally beloved UTSA Roadrunners). But a university sports director said: Illustrated Sports that, subject to the courts enforcing the contractual obligation, this incident “throws the whole system into chaos”. Although we also hear that about every change in the sport every other week, so take that however you like.

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