• Lillie Burke

Belmont athletics expected to move to Missouri Valley Conference after nine years in OVC

Belmont University will likely leave the Ohio Valley Conference to join the Missouri Valley Conference as early as next season, according to a report from Extra Points.

President Greg Jones is expected to announce the move Tuesday morning, alongside Vice President, Director of Athletics Scott Corley.

The switch would mark the second conference realignment in recent years for Belmont athletics after the university broke ties with the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2012 to join the OVC.

Belmont’s strong basketball programs could be the cause for the move in an effort to increase the competitiveness and visibility of both the men’s and women’s teams.

In the 2020-21 season, Belmont basketball ranked No. 1 in the OVC and No. 90 of 347 Division I competitors overall, according to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index.

Belmont’s men’s team took home at least 20 wins in the last 11 consecutive seasons and made five NCAA tournament appearances in that time. The women’s squad has also made five NCAA runs of its own since 2016, even upsetting No. 5 seed Gonzaga University in 2021 tournament play.

Belmont would be the sole university representing Tennessee in the MVC, which is composed of schools from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. The Bruins would face off against the likes of Loyola University Chicago, Drake University and Missouri State University, to name a few.

Of the MVC schools on ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index, Belmont is only outranked by No. 15 Loyola and No. 66 Drake.

In making the switch, Belmont’s men’s soccer program would also take a spot in the MVC instead of being the lone team out in the Southern Conference.

Of all the university’s teams, only men’s tennis would not have a place in the MVC. It’s unknown which opponents the men’s squad will face on the tennis court going forward.

Belmont would follow Austin Peay and Jacksonville State University in leaving the OVC for a new conference and is the fourth university this year to do so. The loss of these programs puts the OVC at eight member schools.

At the time of publication, Belmont Athletics was not available to comment.

Jones and Corely are expected to provide more details Tuesday at a 10 a.m. announcement in Belmont’s Curb Event Center.

PHOTO: Bruins at a game against OVC opponent Murray State in the 2020-21 season. Photo courtesy of Tyra Finkeldey.

This article was written by Sarah Maninger and A.J. Wuest. Contributory reporting by Jessica Mattsson and Anna Jackson.

#BelmontAthletics #MissouriState #OVC #Drake #basketball #womensbasketball #Loyola #mensbasketball #Menssoccer #MensTennis #MVC

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