Source: Old Dominion in discussions with Sun Belt

ODU football
Posted at 6:17 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 21:40:26-04

NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Old Dominion could end up with a new conference home as early as next week, according to multiple reports.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations tells News 3 that ODU has had conversations with the Sun Belt Conference, but could not speculate as to when an invitation from that league might be extended.

CBS Sports is one of several outlets reporting that the Monarchs are one of four athletic programs that will receive an invitation to the Sun Belt, joining Marshall, Southern Mississippi and James Madison.

ODU has no official comment at this time beyond the statement made by university president Dr. Brian Hemphill on Tuesday.

This illustrates how fast the college athletics landscape can change. In his statement, Hemphill indicated that the Monarchs were committed to Conference USA, at least for the time being, after the league lost six of its members to the American Athletic Conference.

"By working together with our partners at C-USA, we are optimistic about attracting additional members with a regional benefit to ODU, resulting in less travel and greater competition, for many years to come," a portion of his statement read.

However, as more C-USA teams depart, the sustainability of the league comes into question. Southern Mississippi, Marshall and Old Dominion's move would leave the conference with only five members.

A move to the Sun Belt would allow the Monarchs access to the ESPN family of networks, thanks to the conference's television deal. This would get every football and basketball game, both men's and women's, is broadcast on an ESPN platform.

The Sun Belt is currently made up of Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Troy, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Louisiana, Texas State, South Alabama, Louisiana Monroe and Arkansas State. Adding ODU, Marshall and James Madison would stretch the conference's footprint north, while Southern Mississippi would fit with the current geographic make-up of the league.

This would mark Old Dominion's second stint in the Sun Belt. The Monarchs were members from 1982-1991, before joining the CAA. They began Conference USA membership in 2014 as ODU's football program made the jump to the FBS level.