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Sun Belt-bound Marshall plans to end C-USA affiliation early

Marshall takes on Middle Tennessee during an NCAA men's basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Marshall, which announced last fall that it would join the Sun Belt by July 2023, said Friday it intends to end its affiliation with Conference USA a year early.

Marshall’s athletic department said it will stop participating in Conference USA effective June 30, 2022.

“This decision comes after consideration of the best interests of Marshall’s student-athletes and its loyal fans,” Marshall said in a statement. “We are grateful for our 17 years of Conference USA membership, an era that will always be an important part of Thundering Herd history. Now it is time to turn the page to Marshall’s future.”

Marshall said that while it has told Conference USA of its intentions, the league “refuses to discuss a resolution” with the school.

“Our student-athletes, coaches, staff, fan base and the remaining members of Conference USA are deserving of clarity in this matter, thus the need for today’s message,” Marshall said.

All college leagues and their members have agreed-upon bylaws and contractual obligations during times of realignment, Conference USA said in a statement Friday night.

“We have chosen not to engage publicly, but have communicated with our member institutions and expect them to meet those obligations,” C-USA said.

Marshall, based in Huntington, West Virginia, joined C-USA in 2005, won its only league championship in football in 2014 and rose as high as No. 15 in the AP Top 25 poll in the 2020 season.

Marshall is joining the Sun Belt along with C-USA schools Southern Mississippi and Old Dominion and FCS powerhouse James Madison. UT-Arlington is leaving the Sun Belt this summer to return to the Western Athletic Conference.

Six other C-USA schools announced last year that they would be leaving for the American Athletic Conference at a date to be determined. Then, after C-USA announced the addition of four new members starting in 2023, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky decided they would remain in the conference.