Photo by: Charlie Luttrell
After 26 years in the Conference USA, Southern Miss becomes another of many schools shifting leagues, choosing to move to the Sun Belt Conference.
While the move has yet to be announced by Southern Miss, Action Network’s Brett McMurphy reported that the SBC officially added Southern Miss to its conference on Oct. 22.
Along with Southern Miss, C-USA partner Marshall is expected to join the Sun Belt Conference, as well as Old Dominion, Marshall and James Madison.
Southern Miss’ move comes amidst a dramatic conference realignment across the country, which was spurred by Texas and Oklahoma’s move to the Southeastern Conference.
Since then, every conference has been impacted by realignment or, at the very least, talks of realignment.
The effects reached C-USA this past week when the American Athletic Conference accepted six of C-USA’s programs, including Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA.
If Marshall joins the SBC, C-USA will only have five remaining members. However, the league looks to expand to avoid collapsing.
“We have a strong core of members to build around and are continuing to work to strengthen our league as we move forward,” C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod said in a press release. “There are several institutions interested in joining Conference USA, both across FBS and FCS, some of whom we’ve already met with in person.”
Southern Miss stayed in the C-USA through multiple realignments before departing. In fact, Southern Miss is one of the two remaining members that has stayed in the conference through its entire life and the longest-tenured football program in the conference. Only UAB has stayed in the conference since its birth in 1995.
As UAB and other schools now move to the AAC, they will begin to play in their new conference as soon as 2023. McMurphy reports that Southern Miss will also join their new league in 2023.
The move does not come without a price, though. Southern Miss and the other seven schools departing C-USA will have to pay an exit fee of $3 million, as reported by Yahoo Sport’s Pete Thamel.
McMurphy reports the move is expected to be officially announced as soon as Oct. 25.