May 17, 2012
Over the last few weeks, many of you have read or heard about the changing landscape of college athletic conference membership, including opportunities presented to Old Dominion University.
University administrators have performed considerable due diligence in examining the impact an NCAA football reclassification and conference change could have on the university, overall student body and athletic programs, in particular, ensuring that such a move could be made without an increase in student fees.
Following a detailed briefing to the board, which expressed support, and other constituents, Old Dominion University is pleased to enter into a membership agreement with Conference USA, effective July 1, 2013.
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. 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.
C-USA members include East Carolina, Rice, Tulane Tulsa, Marshall, Florida International, North Texas and Louisiana Tech universities and the universities of North Carolina Charlotte, Southern Mississippi, Alabama at Birmingham, Texas at El Paso, and Texas at San Antonio.
I want to express my appreciation to our Colonial Athletic Association member schools, which over the years provided great competition and lively rivalries. I especially want to thank Commissioner Tom Yeager for his leadership and friendship to both Old Dominion and me personally.
While we will no longer be a member of the CAA after next year, we hope to schedule athletic competitions with many of the league's member schools and our non-conference schedule will be more regional than in the past.
As we moved through this process, I was encouraged by the wide-spread and broad-based support we received from all constituencies, both within and outside the ODU community, for a possible move to the C-USA. Similar to the enthusiasm we experienced when we started football, we have already received commitments of more than $3 million in private support for the move, and our fundraising will continue through the summer. This philanthropic support enables us to join Conference USA without increasing student fees, which was a critical factor for the board and me.
While many details still need finalization, Athletic Director Dr. Wood Selig and his staff will work diligently to ensure that programs whose sports championships fall outside the C-USA footprint will be accommodated and enhanced. We will provide more information in the coming days and weeks on the specifics of that and other elements the move will necessitate.
In closing, I want to thank our coaches and student athletes, whose excellence on the playing field and in the classroom over the years put Old Dominion University in the position to make a move of this magnitude. We have a first-rate athletic program and joining Conference USA makes it possible for our Monarchs to reach even greater heights.
John R. Broderick