Another football program is on the move as part the latest round of conference realignment.
According to multiple reports, Marshall is leaving Conference USA to join the Sun Belt Conference, following Southern Miss and Old Dominion.
Marshall’s addition will give the Sun Belt 13 football members, and according to a report from The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, FCS power James Madison is also expected to join the Sun Belt, likely sometime later next week.
Marshall will give the Sun Belt 13 football members, with James Madison expected to join later next week.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) October 29, 2021
On Thursday night, reports stated that Conference USA is looking to expand, though Marshall was expected to play a key role in whether that expansion was successful or not.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, “the pivot point moving forward for C-USA expansion will be Marshall’s decision. If they stay in C-USA, it’s likely that Liberty would join Conference USA with New Mexico State as the seventh and eighth teams.
“If Marshall goes to the Sun Belt, things are less certain. It’s likely that C-USA would look to the FCS for at least one program. Sam Houston State appears to lead the pack of FCS schools that Conference USA is evaluating.”
According to CBS Sports sources, Marshall was involved in discussions with Conference USA about conference expansion, before making the decision to leave for the Sun Belt.
“All eyes are on Marshall. Marshall has a tough decision,” a source told Dennis Dodd before Marshall made its decision Friday. “Decide to go to the Sun Belt and be a middle-of-the-pack program in a 14-team league, or stay in Conference USA and be the most tradition-rich program and compete for championships.”
Marshall had been a member of Conference USA since 2005.
Conference USA has now lost nine of its 14 teams to conference realignment, leaving the league with only Louisiana Tech, UTEP, FIU, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky.
Over the last two months, 12 college football teams have changed conferences (or joined a conference, leaving independence behind) and as of Friday morning that number reportedly has grown to 13.