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Marshall, Conference USA in Spat Over Conference Realignment

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Conference USA didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Thursday.

Marshall is searching for to resolve the lawsuit in court in its home county in West Virginia quite than in arbitration, the popular forum of the league. The university said in its lawsuit that when Marshall signed its agreement to change into a member of Conference USA in 2003, there was no language within the bylaws that required arbitration if a member school decided to go away the conference.

When asked why Marshall was attempting to expedite its departure from Conference USA, Jason Corriher, the university’s assistant athletic director for media relations, provided an announcement citing “one of the best interests of Marshall’s student-athletes and its loyal fans.” The statement added that the university wanted to seek out an amicable resolution however the conference has refused attempts at discussion.

The lawsuit, Marshall said in a second statement, is “the start of litigation intended to guard our rights, help us reach an agreement in a timely manner and clear the best way for our shift in conference affiliation.” Corriher said the varsity has no desire to talk further concerning the lawsuit.

The Sun Belt declined to comment, referring as an alternative to Marshall’s public statements.

Stony Brook (America East Conference), the University of Illinois at Chicago (Horizon League), and James Madison (Colonial Athletic Conference) all decided to go away their respective leagues starting within the 2022-23 academic yr.

In response, the conferences prohibited the schools’ teams from participating in all conference team championships, invoking existing league bylaws that make a faculty’s sports teams ineligible to take part in the postseason once a member institution intends to withdraw from the conference.

It’s the newest example of the bitterness of conference realignment, one during which the student-athletes which were barred from competing feel essentially the most severe consequences of the contractual disputes.

Last week, Stony Brook, the University of Illinois at Chicago and James Madison released a joint statement asking that the conferences eliminate membership transition provisions that directly impact student athletes.

“Student-athletes across the country have admirably navigated the physical and mental toll of the past two, pandemic-impacted years,” the statement said. “No conferences should impose participation penalties that inflict additional, unnecessary harm.”

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