NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Sun Belt Conference on Tuesday released a football schedule for the coming season that includes new members Marshall, Southern Mississippi and Old Dominion, two weeks after Conference USA put out its 2022 schedule with those schools included.
The dispute over where Marshall, Southern Miss and ODU compete next school year has now spilled into the courts. The three schools announced last fall that they planned to leave C-USA for the Sun Belt, saying they would join by July 2023.
Then all three schools announced last month they planned to make the conference switch this coming summer.
Conference USA officials have insisted league bylaws require the departing members to stay put for at least one more season. A few days after the three departing schools said they would play in the Sun Belt in 2022, C-USA released its football schedule with those teams as part of it.
C-USA demanded arbitration with the schools and filed for an injunction to keep them in the league for 2022-23.
Marshall and Southern Miss countered with complaints filed in West Virginia and Mississippi courts, respectively, and were granted temporary restraining orders to ward off arbitration. Old Dominion requested a similar injunction in Virginia on Monday.
The Sun Belt has stayed out of the legal dispute and forged ahead with its plans to have a 14-member football league in 2022. The conference also added James Madison, which is moving up from the FCS tier of Division I to join the Sun Belt in 2022.
Marshall, Old Dominion and James Madison will compete in the Sun Belt's East Division and Southern Miss will be part of the West Division.
Old Dominion's first Sun Belt game is scheduled for Sept. 24 at home against Arkansas State.
Marshall is set to play at Troy that same day and James Madison at Appalachian State.
Southern Mississippi, a founding member of Conference USA, is scheduled to open Sun Belt play on Oct. 8 at Troy.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25