Old Dominion is studying a move to a reconfigured Conference USA, sources say, and has discussed membership with a number of different leagues, according to athletic director Wood Selig.
ODU recently has hosted Conference USA officials on campus as part of discussions about joining the all-sports league, which presently stretches from the mid-Atlantic region south to Florida and Alabama and west to Texas and Oklahoma.
Conference USA is losing four members to the Big East Conference, leaving the league with eight members for 2013, including East Carolina.
But C-USA officials want to expand to 14 schools. By the end of the week, they plan to announce the addition of five schools: Charlotte of the Atlantic 10, Florida International and the University of North Texas of the Sun Belt and Louisiana Tech and Texas San Antonio of the Western Athletic Conference.
Old Dominion, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association since 1991, is on the table. But a source said that the Monarchs were granted an extension in order to allow the school's leadership, including the Board of Visitors, to weigh a possible conference jump.
The length of the extension is unclear, but C-USA officials have other potential targets for the 14th member. Middle Tennessee State of the Sun Belt Conference is most often mentioned.
Selig was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but ODU senior associate athletic director Debbie White issued a statement:
"Recent reports of conference realignment across the country have heightened our attention to focus on one of the primary goals of our intercollegiate athletic strategic plan, which is to continually assess the changing landscape of Division I athletics.
"One of the primary roles of our athletic director, Dr. Wood Selig, is to understand and analyze the changing landscape and to position the University and its athletic programs for future success. Any decision regarding conference affiliation would require due diligence on the part of the University and athletics.
"There will be no further comments from the University at this time."
ODU's discussions with Conference USA, and other leagues, were prompted by the latest round of conference realignment. VCU and George Mason reportedly were and are considering a jump to the Atlantic 10, historically a stronger basketball league than the CAA.
A conference jump by ODU anywhere other than the Atlantic 10 dramatically changes the dynamic of the Monarchs' football program and, by extension, the athletic department. The Monarchs compete at the Football Championship Subdivision level in the CAA.
A move to C-USA or a similar all-sports league would force ODU to move up to Football Bowl Subdivision, with the added expense of extra scholarships (maximum 63 in FCS, 85 in FBS), facilities and travel, as well as the indirect issue of how extra male athletes would impact the athletic department's Title IX profile.
The Atlantic 10 does not sponsor football, and its football-playing members, such as Richmond, Massachusetts, Duquesne and Fordham, have their teams in other conferences.
ODU became a potential target for C-USA expansion due in large part to East Carolina officials, specifically athletic director Terry Holland. Holland and Selig worked together at Virginia. Holland stumped for ODU, which would present by far the Pirates' closest competitor in C-USA's far-flung geographic footprint.
Old Dominion studies possible jump to Conference USA
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