Ohio Valley Conference
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The Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) is an American college sports conference that plays in the NCAA Division I. In football, the OVC is part of Division I FCS, the lower of two levels of Division I football. The member universities and colleges are in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. The OVC has its offices in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood, Tennessee.
The OVC grew out of talks between officials at three Kentucky schools—Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, and Western Kentucky—in 1941. America's entry into World War II later that year put these talks on hold for several years. Later, in 1948, the three original schools joined with two other Kentucky schools, plus one in Indiana, to form the conference.
It was one of the first conferences with a presence in the South to accept black athletes at historically white-only schools, with Morehead State being the first OVC member to do so in 1958. The OVC was long notable as being the only conference made up of traditionally white schools to have a historically black university (HBCU) as a member, namely Tennessee State. That changed when Hampton and North Carolina A&T left the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the Big South Conference, respectively in 2018 and 2021. (Both moved together to the Colonial Athletic Association in 2022.)
The OVC has had major membership changes in recent years. In 2021, it lost founding member Eastern Kentucky, plus Jacksonville State, to the ASUN Conference. A year later, three more members left, with Austin Peay moving to the ASUN, and founding member Murray State and Belmont joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). However, since the MVC does not play football, Murray State will play the 2022 football season in the OVC before moving the football team to the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2023. (The MVFC is separate from, but closely related to, the MVC.) Murray State will remain a member in rifle after it otherwise leaves the OVC.
The OVC responded by adding three new members in 2022. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock, athletically known as Little Rock, joined from the Sun Belt Conference. It does not have a football team. The other new members started transitions from NCAA Division II. Lindenwood University plays football; the University of Southern Indiana does not.
In February 2022, the OVC and Big South announced they would merge their football leagues after the 2022 season. The conferences have not announced whether the merged league will be operated by one conference or the other, or become fully separate. Also, shortly after the 2022 membership changes took effect, the OVC and Horizon League merged their men's tennis leagues under the Horizon's banner.
The OVC has 10 full members. Six of these schools play football in the OVC; one plays football in another conference; and three do not play football at all. All members are public schools except for 2022 arrival Lindenwood.
|Eastern Illinois University||Charleston, Illinois||1895||Public||Panthers||1996|
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock
|Little Rock, Arkansas||1927||Public||Trojans||2022||N|
|Lindenwood University||St. Charles, Missouri||1827||Private||Lions||2022|
|Morehead State University||Morehead, Kentucky||1922||Public||Eagles||1948||N[a]|
|Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
|Southeast Missouri State University||Cape Girardeau, Missouri||1873||Public||Redhawks||1991|
|University of Southern Indiana||Evansville, Indiana[b]||1965||Public||Screaming Eagles||2022||N|
|Tennessee State University||Nashville, Tennessee||1912||Public||Tigers &
|Tennessee Technological University||Cookeville, Tennessee||1912||Public||Golden Eagles||1949|
|University of Tennessee at Martin
The OVC has two "associate" members—i.e., schools that play a small number of sports in the conference, usually one.
|School||Location||Founded||Type||Nickname||OVC sport(s)||Joined||Main conference|
|University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
|Chattanooga, Tennessee||1886||Public||Mocs||Beach volleyball||2019||SoCon|
|Murray State University||Murray, Kentucky||1922||Public||Racers||Football[a]
- The football team will play in the OVC in 2022 before joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2023.
Fourteen schools have been full members, but are no longer in the league. As noted earlier, former full member Murray State remains an OVC associate member.
- Austin Peay's football team left the OVC in 1997, but the school stayed in the OVC for other sports. The football team returned in 2007.
- Western Kentucky's football team returned to the OVC for the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
Former associate membersEdit
The OVC had one associate member in the past, but that school left when it folded its only OVC sports team.
|School||Location||Founded||Type||Nickname||OVC sport(s)||Joined||Left||Main conference||Conference in former|
|Columbus State University||Columbus, Georgia||1958||Public||Cougars||Rifle||2012||2015||Peach Belt (Div. II)||None (dropped rifle in 2015)|
- "OVC History". Ohio Valley Conference. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- "ASUN Conference Announces Three New Institutions; Adds Football as 20th Sport" (Press release). ASUN Conference. January 29, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
- "ASUN Conference Welcomes Austin Peay State University as its Newest Member" (Press release). ASUN Conference. September 17, 2021.
- "Murray State University Joins The Missouri Valley Conference" (Press release). Murray State Racers. January 7, 2022. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
- "Belmont University to Join Missouri Valley Conference" (Press release). Belmont Bruins. September 28, 2021. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
- "Murray State Football To Join Missouri Valley Football Conference July of 2023" (Press release). Missouri Valley Football Conference. April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
- "Little Rock Receives Board Approval to Join Ohio Valley Conference" (Press release). Ohio Valley Conference. December 8, 2021. Retrieved December 8, 2021.
- "Lindenwood University to Join the Ohio Valley Conference in 2022-23" (Press release). Ohio Valley Conference. February 23, 2022. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
- "University of Southern Indiana to Join the Ohio Valley Conference in 2022-23" (Press release). Ohio Valley Conference. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
- "Big South and Ohio Valley Conference Announce Football Agreement" (Press release). Big South Conference. February 22, 2022. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
- "Horizon League Announces Innovative Partnership with Ohio Valley Conference and Men's Tennis Programs, Adds Chicago State as an Affiliate Member for Men's and Women's Tennis" (Press release). Horizon League. July 6, 2022. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
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