NORFOLK (WTVR) – Old Dominion became the latest school to leave the Colonial Athletic Association on Thursday, announcing their plans to join Conference USA in 2013.
The move, announced by ODU president John Broderick, is to allow the Monarchs football program to move up to the FBS level by 2015. They will remain in the FCS (1-AA) level for 2012 before playing two years as an independent.
“While the university was not actively seeking a change, recent events necessitated an earlier consideration of our future, and in particular, for our football program,” Broderick said. “C-USA’s invitation provided the right opportunity at the right time to reclassify our football program and broaden the national footprint of our athletic program.”
“The number of doors that will open to us now when we want to talk to student athletes” added football coach Bobby Wilder. “We are now in the same category as Virginia and Virginia Tech”.
Old Dominion will have to pay a $250,000 exit fee to the CAA and will forfeit about $400,000 in NCAA revenue for this coming year. But boosters have already pledged $3 million to the ODU athletic department to help cover the costs of moving up their football program.
ODU is the second school this week, joining VCU, to leave the Richmond-based CAA. Commissioner Tom Yeager said he has been getting unsolicited calls from school presidents and administrators about joining the CAA and thinks the conference could expand a early as this summer. He recalled in 2000 when Richmond, American, and East Carolina left the league there were doubts about it’s future.
“Fortunately being around long enough, we’ve been through it before” Yeager said. “We’re going to be fine. There were a lot of people that thought we wouldn’t have accomplished what we have in the last 12 years.”
Still to be determined is the Monarchs eligibility for CAA championships in 2012-2013, specifically men’s basketball. CAA bylaws say once a school announces their departure they are ineligible for league titles. The Monarchs will still play a CAA schedule this coming year and would like the conference to reconsider that particular rule.
ODU men’s basketball coach Blaine Taylor told ESPN.com that he was hopeful “cooler heads would prevail” and the league would allow the Monarchs to compete for the conference tournament title.
“I would hope they would revisit that,” Taylor said. “We’ve been in this league a long time.”