By HANK KURZ Jr., Associated Press
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Old Dominion President John R. Broderick said leaving the Colonial Athletic Association and joining Conference USA is a "game changer" for ODU.
The president discussed the move during a press conference Thursday afternoon after the university announced earlier Thursday in a release that ODU was making the jump effective July 1, 2013.
"The move places our athletic programs on a national NCAA Division I stage," the president said.
The Monarchs, who restarted their football program three seasons ago, will play at the Bowl Subdivision level after one more year in the Championship Subdivision.
Broderick acknowledged "football certainly was a driving consideration is this decision."
The CAA is the latest conference to be hit by realignment.
The Monarchs are the second school to leave the conference this week. VCU announced Tuesday it's heading to the Atlantic 10 this summer. The league also faces the likelihood of UNC Wilmington and Towson being banned from postseason play in men's basketball next season for NCAA Academic Progress Rate failures.
Leaving the CAA will be somewhat costly for Old Dominion, which will have to pay a $250,000 exit fee and add football scholarships, but Monarchs boosters have already pledged $3 million in private support to help meet those expenses, Broderick said.
The move also will be made without an increase in student fees, he said, which was among the factors he viewed as critical while the school studied the impact the change would make.
"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," Broderick said in a release. "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."
That footprint, indeed, gets larger, as will ODU's travel budget.
Conference USA members include East Carolina, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Florida International, Marshall, and UNC-Charlotte in the east, and Rice, Tulsa, North Texas, Southern Mississippi, Alabama at Birmingham, Texas at El Paso, and Texas at San Antonio further west.
CAA bylaws do not currently allow a team to participate in league tournaments after it has announced its intention to leave, but Commissioner Tom Yeager said following VCU's announcement on Tuesday that the matter could be reconsidered by league schools.
It was not immediately clear whether the CAA will allow the Monarchs to contend next season, and Yeager did not immediately return a phone message left Thursday morning.
Details of ODU's move are not yet finalized, Broderick said, including finding homes for athletic programs that Old Dominion competes in that are not offered by Conference USA.
Though that does not appear to a major concern for Broderick, who said "we're very excited to start this chapter in our athletic history."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.