Old Dominion to join Sun Belt Conference

Sports

(Photo Courtesy: Sun Belt Conference)

NEW ORLEANS – The Sun Belt Conference announced Wednesday the addition of Old Dominion University into the league after a unanimous vote of the Sun Belt CEOs. ODU will join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023.

A press conference is set for tomorrow, Thursday, October 28, in Norfolk, Va., at 8 a.m. CT/9 a.m. ET and will include ODU President Dr. Brian Hemphill, ODU Director of Athletics Dr. Camden Wood Selig and Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Old Dominion University to the Sun Belt. ODU brings a host of strengths to our conference. They have comprehensive success. They’ve collected many championships. They will have natural rivals in our footprint,” said Keith Gill, Sun Belt Conference Commissioner. “I am grateful to President Dr. Brian Hemphill and Athletics Director Dr. Camden Wood Selig for their leadership during this process. I’d also like to thank the CEOs and athletic directors of our current member institutions for their efforts as we continue our discussions around adding new members.”

The addition of Old Dominion brings the number of Sun Belt members to 14, with the Monarchs joining current members—App State, Little Rock, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, UTA, Texas State and Troy—and Southern Miss, which was welcomed to the Sun Belt Conference on Tuesday.  

“Amid national realignment discussions, our presidents and chancellors have expressed confidence in the SBC leadership and our member configuration (especially with the recent addition of Southern Miss),” said Dr. Kelly Damphousse, Chancellor at Arkansas State University and President of the SBC Board of Directors. “As I told President Hemphill when we met Monday, the SBC CEOs believe that Old Dominion University mirrors our conference’s athletics and academic missions, while also capitalizing on regionality goals. He and I also discussed our shared desire to increase research and academic partnerships among our SBC universities. My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming President Hemphill and his ODU faculty, staff, and students to the Sun Belt Conference.”

Old Dominion University, founded in 1930 and located in Norfolk, Va., supports a student population of over 24,000. Athletically, the program claims 28 team national championships—15 in sailing, nine in field hockey, three in women’s basketball and one in men’s basketball—and four individual crowns—three in wrestling and one in tennis. The football program won its lone bowl appearance, 24-20 over Eastern Michigan, in the 2016 Bahamas Bowl. 

“Joining the Sun Belt Conference is a game-changer for Old Dominion University and our athletic program.  We are excited about the expanded opportunities and limitless possibilities now and well into the future,” said ODU President Brian Hemphill, Ph.D. “As we prepare to begin a new era in ODU Athletics, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to Commissioner Keith Gill and the Sun Belt’s member institutions, especially Arkansas State University Chancellor Kelly Damphousse, Ph.D., for such a warm welcome. We look forward to competing with our Sun Belt family in the years to come. More importantly, we look forward to the lasting and meaningful partnerships that will develop as we spotlight the incredible talent and hard work of our student-athletes!”

The Monarchs sponsor 18 varsity sports. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, sailing, swimming and tennis. Women’s sports include basketball, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, sailing, swimming, tennis and volleyball. 

“On behalf of our student-athletes, coaches and athletic administration, I want to express our gratitude to Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Keith Gill and the entire league leadership for this wonderful opportunity to join the Sun Belt Conference with all of its current momentum and potential,” ODU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig said. “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 athletics 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.”  

ODU was a member of the Sun Belt Conference from 1982-1991 and enjoyed success in a wide range of sports. The men’s basketball team won Sun Belt regular-season titles in 1983 and 1986 and went to the NCAA Tournament three times and the NIT three times while they were members of the Sun Belt Conference. The ODU women’s basketball squad won five Sun Belt titles and went to eight NCAA Tournaments. The 1984-85 team, coached by Marianne Stanley, won the NCAA Tournament, the last of ODU’s three national titles. The ODU’s men’s soccer team won the 1985, 1987 and 1989 Sun Belt championships. The ODU baseball team went to the NCAA Tournament twice in the Sun Belt Conference and coach Mark Newman’s 1985 team finished 50-11 and won the Sun Belt title.

The Sun Belt Conference was founded in 1976 and began sponsoring football in 2001. Over the course of the past five football seasons, the conference has posted an FBS-leading .692 winning percentage in bowl games, going 18-8 over the stretch. 

The Sun Belt sponsors 17 NCAA sports and annually awards nearly $134 million in financial aid to more than 4,600 student-athletes. App State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy comprise the league’s 10 football members. Little Rock and UTA compete as Sun Belt members in sports other than football.

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