USM Paid $1.75 Million to Exit C-USA

A C-USA flag flies above M. M. Roberts Stadium before the game in 2019.

The University of Southern Mississippi paid $1.75 million to Conference USA as “Consideration Paid to the Conference for Early Withdrawal” according to an agreement document obtained by the USM Student Media Center today. 

The “Confidential Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release” was signed on March 29 by the presidents of USM, Marshall University and Old Dominion University, the three schools that left C-USA. According to the document, USM had 30 days to pay the settlement from the time the document was approved. The Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning unanimously approved a motion to agree to this settlement on March 31.

How we got here 

On October 21, 2021, Southern Miss announced it would be leaving C-USA to join the Sun Belt July 2023. Southern Miss held a press conference featuring former university president Rodney Bennett, athletic director Jeremy McClain and SBC Commissioner Keith Gill to announce the move. 

However, the university – alongside Marshall and Old Dominion – decided to leave C-USA one year early in a joint announcement in February of this year. In a statement released February 11, 2022, Southern Miss Athletics said, “The University has from the outset expressed its desire to work with Conference USA to achieve an amicable separation…Conference USA has so far refused to discuss any such arrangement with the University.”

Four days later, Conference USA held its ground and included Southern Miss, Old Dominion and Marshall on its 2022 football schedule. The conference threatened legal action, which led to the long process that followed.

The three universities received multiple temporary restraining orders against C-USA from their respective local courts, with the first of these coming on February 24. One week later on March 1, the Sun

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