If you follow sports news when it comes to the NCAA, there are a couple of news stories that never seem to go away. Conference realignment just continues to shift the college landscape, and the transfer portal continues to add new players.
The end of March saw another new announcement about conference realignment as the Sun Belt Conference is officially adding three new schools. Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Miss will all be joining the Sun Belt and they will actually start playing football games in that league in 2022.
All three of those schools are leaving Conference USA, and this turned into a major issue with their former conference. Conference USA officials claimed that the three schools broke the conference bylaws by not informing them of their intent to leave at least 14 months before it occurred.
The decision to join the Sun Belt immediately was ultimately settled in court, but the terms for that settlement were not made public. With the departure of three schools, Conference USA will only have 11 schools for the 2022 football season.
Conference USA is hoping to play a couple of games in Week 0 this season in an effort to make a new schedule that won’t have teams playing for two straight months. The Sun Belt Conference is now up to 14 league teams as James Madison was also added to the conference.
This is just the beginning for Conference USA as it is a league that is going to be decimated with departures. At least six other schools will be leaving at some point, and new schools are coming in.
The American Athletic Conference will be welcoming current C-USA league members, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA. The four schools that will join C-USA at some point are Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State, and Sam Houston.
Moves in the MVC
The Missouri Valley Conference will also have several noticeable changes next year, although this isn’t a league that plays FBS Football. The Missouri Valley Conference is known for men’s college basketball, but its top team is headed to a different league.
The Loyola Chicago Ramblers are heading to the Atlantic-10 Conference, giving that league 15 schools. Loyola has become a big name on the basketball scene as it has made a pair of stunning runs in the NCAA Tournament.
The Missouri Valley Conference worked quickly to replace Loyola, and they have also added two new teams as well. There will now be 12 teams in the MVC beginning in 2022, and it doesn’t sound like the league is done at all.
The University of Illinois-Chicago was chosen to replace Loyola as it was important for the league to have a Chicago presence. Murray State and Belmont are the other two schools set to join the MVC, and those schools are also looking for more exposure when it comes to college basketball.
Jeff Jackson is the new commissioner of the MVC, and he plans to look elsewhere for additional teams as well. Since this continues to be something that happens every year, there will likely be schools looking to join.
Big Schools Still Waiting
This most recent wave of conference realignment actually began with the decision of both Texas and Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 Conference and join the SEC. This was an announcement that sent shockwaves throughout college sports, and it started this chain reaction.
Texas and Oklahoma are not expected to join the SEC until 2024-25, but there is a chance that the move could be expedited depending on what the Big 12 decides. There was a worry that the Big 12 would ultimately crumble, but that league was able to add some different schools to the mix.
BYU is likely going to be the first school to join the “new” Big 12 Conference as that school is planning to leave the West Coast Conference. The Cougars will compete in all sports, and it could happen as soon as 2023-24.
The other three schools set to join the Big 12 are all coming from the American Athletic Conference. It will be Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF that are added to the league to replace the departures of Texas and Oklahoma.