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Belmont makes the move to greener valleys, departing OVC for Missouri Valley Conference

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Belmont confirmed the university will leave the Ohio Valley Conference to join the Missouri Valley Conference, as announced by President Greg Jones in a Tuesday morning press conference.

Following the report speculating the switch, it is confirmed that Belmont Athletics will be leaving the OVC for the more competitive MVC effective July 1, 2022.

“Joining the MVC will elevate our level of competition, enhance our recruiting and increase our opportunities for national exposure,” said Jones.

Belmont will join 10 other member institutions, including Drake University, Loyola University Chicago and Missouri State University, in athletic competition.

It was a quick turnaround for Belmont administration, as the opportunity fell into Jones’ hands on Aug. 16 when he was contacted by the MVC Expansion Work Group.

After the proposal for the move was set in motion, MVC member institutions unanimously voted Belmont into the conference.

“The future is bright… it’s bright with the members that we have now. It’s brighter with Belmont University joining us,” said Drake University President Earl F. Martin, who spoke at the press conference Tuesday.

The MVC is one of the oldest Division I conferences in the country, second only to the Big Ten Conference.

Belmont will be the first university in Tennessee to join the conference.

Belmont will join 10 existing MVC member schools in the midwest. Courtesy. of Belmont Athletics.

Vice President, Director of Athletics Scott Corley believes that the switch to the MVC will bring more recognition to Belmont’s athletics programs. And Jones agrees possibilities abound on campus and beyond. 

“Athletics has also been an integral part of that rise here at Belmont,” Jones said. “It’s time for us to take another step both in our growth as a university and in our growth in athletics.”

MVC Commissioner Jeff Jackson is excited for the addition and believes that it would not have been possible without former men’s basketball head coach Rick Byrd, who contributed greatly to the success of Belmont basketball.

“This is a great day for the Missouri Valley Conference, it’s not often that you have an opportunity to add to your membership one of the premier athletic departments in the United States,” Jackson said. “We have been able to accomplish that with the addition of Belmont University.”

Belmont is the fourth team to depart from the OVC this year following Eastern Kentucky University, Jacksonville State University and Austin Peay University, all of whom departed for the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Signing off his speech, Corley wished the best for the OVC, but is ready to take Belmont Athletics to a higher level.

“It is the competitiveness of this conference. I feel like that’s the next step in our evolution as an athletic department with the investments that have been made,” Corley said.

“I feel like we have prepared as well as we could be to take on this next challenge.”

PHOTO: From left to right, Belmont Chairman Milton Johnson, VP/Director of Athletics Scott Corley, President Greg Jones, MVC Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Missouri State University President Clifton Smart and Drake University President Marty Martin in the Curb Event Center at Tuesday’s press conference. Belmont Vision / Sarah Maninger

This article was written by A.J. Wuest, Jessica Mattsson and David Pang.

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