NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Old Dominion University is set to leave Conference USA at the end of June – a year earlier than previously announced.

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The school announced on Friday that they will terminate their membership in Conference USA effective June 30, 2022. They previously announced that they would join the Sun Belt Conference no later than July 1, 2023.

University officials added that they will not participate in Conference USA during the 2022-23 season.

In a press release, officials said the expedited change came “after considering the best interests of the University and the Monarch family, including our 500 student-athletes and hundreds of thousands of alumni and fans.”

ODU first advised Conference USA in December 2021 that they planned to terminate their membership in June 2022.

“Since then, the University has clearly and consistently repeated its intentions to the Conference,” they added in their press release.

When ODU announced in October 2021 that they will be joining the Sun Belt Conference, they were one of eight teams to leave Conference USA in a week. 6 others (UAB, UTSA, Rice, North Texas, Charlotte and Florida Atlantic) left for the American Athletic Conference, and Southern Mississippi also joined the Sun Belt.

“Joining the Sun Belt Conference is a game-changer for Old Dominion University and our athletic program.  We are excited about the expanded opportunities and limitless possibilities now and well into the future,” said ODU President Brian Hemphill in October. “When you think about the amount of travel and missing class time, that’s important to us. We need them in competition close to the institution within the region where they can truly focus and do a great job in the classroom and in competition.”

Focusing on passionate fanbases over just going after traditional large media markets, the Sun Belt has turned itself into a force among the “Group of Five,” the FBS conferences outside of the Power 5 conferences such as the SEC and ACC. Coastal Carolina, App State and Louisiana have all been in or around the top 25 in recent years, with Coastal currently at No. 25 in the AP Top 25.

While ODU has struggled overall since its jump to FBS in the 2013-2014 season (they did have a win over No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2018 and a 10-3 season in 2016-17 that included a win in the Bahamas Bowl) the move should give the program a boost.