Belmont leaving OVC for MVC; Texas A & M-Commerce in Southland |

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Belmont will join the Missouri Valley Conference on July 1 as the league’s 11th member after nine years at the Ohio Valley Conference.

Greg Jones, chairman of Belmont, announced the decision on Tuesday. He called the time for Belmont to take it to the next level and help the university raise its level of play in all sports.

“We know it will be a challenge for us on the athletic field and on the courts as we move forward, and we couldn’t be more proud or excited to take this next step,” Jones said.

Belmont decided in 1996 to move from the NAIA to Division I, first as an independent before joining the Atlantic Sun in 2001. Belmont then moved to the OVC in 2012.

College sports have been hit by a new wave of realignment about a decade after the last round of changes. The moves were highlighted by Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference by 2025; the Big 12 responded by picking up BYU and three American Athletic schools: Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida.

Also on Tuesday, the Texas-based Southland Conference, which saw five football teams leave its FCS league earlier this year, announced the addition of Texas A & M-Commerce. The 2017 NCAA Division II National Champion Lions will officially join on July 1 to begin a four-year transition to Division I.

Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin left Southland over the summer to join the WAC, and Central Arkansas is now part of ASUN. That left Southland with eight schools in Texas and Louisiana, and just six football teams.

“Joining the Southland Conference is a historic opportunity for our institution and our athletic program,” said Tim McMurray, athletic director of A&M-Commerce, whose school sponsors 14 varsity sports and was a founding member of the Lone State Conference. founded in 1931.

Belmont has won 62 conference championships with 47 combined NCAA tournament appearances.

“To think in 25 years of what Belmont has done in moving from an NAIA school to today by joining one of the oldest and most prestigious competitive conferences in all of Division I is truly humbling,” Sporting director Scott Corley said. “It doesn’t happen very often. … It’s really phenomenal.

Belmont is banking on greater national visibility by joining the Missouri Valley, a league that has multiple NCAA tournament berths 16 times since 1994 and 20 NCAA tournament wins in the last eight championships.

Belmont’s men’s basketball team has been led by Rick Byrd throughout the NAIA’s transition to one of the top mid-level programs. He retired in April 2019 with 805 career victories after leading the Bruins to eight NCAA tournaments in the past 14 years, including the program’s first host in 2019.

The Bruins have won just 20 conference titles in men’s basketball since 2006 with a 130-24 record in championship games over the past nine seasons.

Only Gonzaga and Kansas have won more during this period nationally. Belmont is also one of only four programs to have won at least 19 games in 16 consecutive seasons, including Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State.

Belmont’s women’s basketball team made their fifth NCAA tournament appearance since 2016 and defeated No.5 seed Gonzaga in March for their first NCAA victory.

Austin Peay announced on September 17 his departure July 1 for ASUN. Eastern Kentucky and the state of Jacksonville both left the OVC for ASUN earlier this year, and the OVC sued the two schools in August, claiming that each school had not paid a fee. release of $ 1 million.

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