The latest domino in the realignment bonanza has fallen, and the future of Conference USA is severely in doubt. Old Dominion announced Wednesday that it has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt Conference with the move coming no later than July 1, 2023. The Monarchs join Southern Miss, which announced its move to the Sun Belt on Tuesday.
“While C-USA has proven to be an excellent home for ODU Athletics during our transition from FCS to FBS, and we thank the C-USA membership and leadership for such an outstanding partnership, 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,” Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig said in a statement.
Old Dominion joined Conference USA as it transitioned to the FBS level during the 2014 football season. The program played football for a brief period in the 1930s, but ultimately folded before restarting a football team at the FCS level in 2009. Bobby Wilder led the program from inception until 2019, posting a 77-56 record between FCS and FBS, including a 10-win season in 2016.
The program has struggled since the breakout season, however, posting an 11-32 record since 2017. Former Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne took over the program in 2020, but ODU opted not to play football during the pandemic season. A move to the Sun Belt — along with the potential rise of James Madison from the FCS ranks — gives the Monarchs significantly more regional partners in the Carolinas and Georgia.
“We are thrilled to welcome Old Dominion University to the Sun Belt. ODU brings a host of strengths to our