Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Belmont Athletics will see two big shifts after the university switches from the Ohio Valley Conference to the Missouri Valley Conference in 2022.
And it’s the men’s soccer and men’s tennis programs that are in the spotlight.
Men’s soccer — in previous seasons the odd team out in the Southern Conference — will come home to the MVC to finally play under the same conference umbrella as the majority of Belmont’s sports programs.
“I’m really pleased, personally, to be in a conference with the rest of Belmont Athletics,” soccer head coach David Costa said. “For me, it was always hard to be in the Southern Conference while everyone else was in the OVC.”
“The Missouri Valley, I think the fact that we’re all going to be in that, creates some more natural rivalries for us,” he said.
Costa is excited about the transition, he said. Since the OVC does not offer men’s soccer conference play, the team has had to compete elsewhere.
“Overall, I think it’s a great move for our department,” Costa said. “For men’s soccer, I think it’s a really good conference, been a multi-bid league a couple times, and I think it’s also got a really good group of head coaches.”
MVC soccer teams have made multiple bids in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament — 17 times in 30 seasons — along with 14 quarter-final appearances, according to MVC press materials.
Costa and his team have already had a taste of competition in the MVC, losing 3-1 to No. 12 Missouri State University early in the season.
Looking toward next season, Missouri State will be the Bruins’ biggest competitor, holding eight MVC soccer tournament titles.
Another big name in play is Loyola University Chicago, a soccer program that has found success in recent years, winning its conference tournament in 2019 and making it to the conference final in 2020.
Belmont’s men’s soccer team has never won a conference title. The 2022-2023 season will tell how competitive the Bruins are in the company of these new opponents.
With one sport welcomed back into conference play with the rest of Belmont Athletics, another has to go.
The MVC does not include conference competition for men’s tennis, so the program will have to find a new home.
“We continue to have positive dialogue regarding affiliate membership with multiple conferences,” Belmont Vice President, Director of Athletics Scott Corley said. “We remain confident in our ability to join a conference in men’s tennis that will allow the team to compete for championships and NCAA berths.”
In the past, the Belmont men’s soccer team participated in the Horizon League, and most recently, the Southern Conference, both of which have men’s tennis programs that might be options for the men’s tennis team.
The Atlantic Sun Conference may be another possibility.
Belmont was a member of ASUN before it joined the OVC, and is home to a number of programs close to Belmont, such as Lipscomb University, Austin Peay University and Central Arkansas University.
At the time of publication, men’s tennis coach Mauricio Antun had not responded to the Vision’s request for a comment.
It’s unclear which conference men’s tennis will compete in after they leave the OVC next year.
PHOTO: No. 16 A.J. Chastonay on the field. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson.
This article was written by David Pang.