Old Dominion approved to join Sun Belt no later than July 2023


Old Dominion formally joined the Sun Belt following a unanimous vote of Sun Belt CEOs, the conference announced Wednesday. The Monarchs will join the SBC no later than July 1, 2023.

ODU is the second of an expected four teams to join the conference. Southern Miss made its official announcement on Tuesday.

A decision from Marshall is expected by the end of the week, and news on James Madison should come later next week. The Action Network first reported ODU was official, and a source told The Athletic Tuesday night that the Monarchs had signed on to join the league.

The Monarchs will move to the Sun Belt from Conference USA. They were previously a member of the Sun Belt from 1982-91, before joining the Colonial Athletic Association and then C-USA. Southern Miss and ODU have said they will begin play in the Sun Belt no later than July 1, 2023.

It’s been a quick rise for Old Dominion, whose football program was restarted in 2009, nearly 70 years after it was shut down in 1941. The Monarch football team then moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision level in 2014 as part of conference realignment. The team went 10-3 in 2016 but has struggled since. The Monarchs didn’t play in 2020 due to COVID-19, and this year’s team is 1-6 overall.

Its football stadium was essentially rebuilt prior to the 2019 season at a cost of nearly $70 million. The Monarchs’ $49 million athletic budget was easily the largest in Conference USA, though that is heavily subsidized by student fees.

With the addition of Old Dominion, the Sun Belt will expand its footprint into Virginia. The expected addition of James Madison will give the Monarchs a natural local rival as well.

(Photo: Michael Wade / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)





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