Delaware receiver Thyrick Pitts (1) pulls in a pass between James Madison's MJ Hampton (32) and Taurus Carroll in the second quarter at Delaware Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.

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James Madison moving to Sun Belt Conference

James Madison will join the Sun Belt Conference, moving its successful football program to the FBS level, the school announced Saturday.

The university, which won the FCS national championship in 2016 and appeared in two subsequent title games, will join the Sun Belt before July 1, 2023.

Currently a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference, James Madison will compete in 18 sports in the Sun Belt. The women’s lacrosse team won the national championship in 2018.

James Madison, in Harrisonburg, Va., is joining Southern Miss, Old Dominion and Marshall as new members of the Sun Belt, which now will have 16 members.

“We are thrilled to welcome James Madison University to the Sun Belt Conference,” said Keith Gill, Sun Belt commissioner. “This move brings another strong brand and passionate fanbase into the Sun Belt and elevates the Dukes’ storied football program to the highest level of NCAA competition.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Huntington, West Virginia, USA; Marshall Thundering Herd wide receiver Shadeed Ahmed (0) celebrates with fans after catching a touchdown pass during the first overtime against the Old Dominion Monarchs at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall indicates it is leaving Conference USA for Sun Belt

Marshall is the latest school to commit to joining the Sun Belt Conference.

The athletic department released a video on its Twitter account on Friday indicating it was joining the league.

“Let’s have some fun! #RiseAsOne|@SunBelt,” the text above the video said.

Marshall will become the ninth school to depart Conference USA in the latest round of league shuffling.

The addition of Marshall will give the Sun Belt 15 full members, including 13 for football.

Earlier this week, the Sun Belt formally announced the additions of Southern Miss and Old Dominion. Both those schools will depart C-USA and join the Sun Belt no later than July 1, 2023

The Sun Belt also has held discussions with FCS power James Madison, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Six other C-USA schools — Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA — are leaving to join the American Athletic Conference in 2023 at the earliest.

The defections leave C-USA with five members: Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky.

C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said last week that the league is seeking new members with some possibly coming from the FCS level.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA; Southern Miss Golden Eagles quarterback Chandler Pittman (12) looks to throw a pass in the second half against the UAB Blazers at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Southern Miss to join Sun Belt, leave C-USA

The latest domino to fall in the current era of college football realignment appears to benefit the Sun Belt Conference.

Southern Miss has accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt and leave behind Conference USA starting in 2023, multiple reports said Friday.

The Golden Eagles likely won’t be the final team to move. Old Dominion, Marshall and James Madison are considering joining the Sun Belt, Sports Illustrated and the Action Network reported.

The move comes after the American Athletic Conference pilfered six C-USA teams this week — restocking after it lost Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to Big 12 invitations.

James Madison is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and plays football at the FCS level, where it consistently has competed for national titles in recent years.

Old Dominion and Marshall, like Southern Miss, belong to C-USA. Should they leave as rumored, C-USA would be down to five members, potentially crippling the league.

Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said the league is actively seeking replacements.

“We have a strong core of members to build around and are continuing to work to strengthen our league as we move forward,” MacLeod said. “There are several institutions interested in joining Conference USA, both across FBS and FCS, some of whom we’ve already met with in person. Every step we take will be deliberate, strategically sound, and intentional.

“We will take the necessary time to add future members that will be the best fit from an athletic and academic standpoint and allow prospective institutions time to complete their process. We continue to believe in the regional concept and will look to incorporate that into our structure and scheduling. There are certainly many questions out there, but a great deal is happening behind the scenes. When appropriate, we will release more information, though out of respect for those involved, we will continue to operate outside of the public space.”

Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA are the six C-USA schools who’ve agreed to join the American in 2023 at the earliest.

The other members of C-USA are Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky.

–Field Level Media