Conference USA is facing a mass exodus of teams planning to leave earlier than expected with three teams hoping to exit this year. Their efforts to avoid that potentially costly move hit a snag today.
According to Chris Vannini of The Athletic, Southern Miss and Marshall - two of the three schools planning to leave along with Old Dominion - received a temporary restraining order against Conference USA. This restraining order prevents Conference USA from demanding arbitration to make a third party rule on the schools' ability to leave.
“The Court finds that Marshall faces immediate and irreparable injury and is likely to succeed on the merits,” the Cabell County Circuit Court said in its decision. “If Marshall is forced to proceed with arbitration, it will violate the West Virginia Constitution and the United States Constitution. Moreover, the Court finds the balance of equities favor Marshall and that granting the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order is in the public interest.”
Old Dominion has filed a similar motion to prevent arbitration. The first hearing on that matter is slated for Tuesday.
The three schools have all committed to join the Sun Belt Conference ahead of the 2022 college football season. Tomorrow the football schedule for the 2022 Sun Belt season is expected to drop.
If Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss are on that schedule, things will get very interesting.
But those three sit among nine current members of Conference USA heading for the exit. Rice, FAU, North Texas, UTSA, Charlotte and UAB are all headed to The American Athletic Conference by 2023.
Conference USA has some replacements coming on board with Jacksonville State, New Mexico State, Sam Houston and Liberty. But that will still make them one of the smaller conferences in college sports.
Are we looking at the end of Conference USA?