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.

History[change | change source]

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. Today, the OVC is 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 school is also the only HBCU with a Division I sports program that plays in a conference that is not made up entirely of such schools.

The OVC's current membership of 12 is the largest in its history.

Members[change | change source]

The OVC has 12 full members. Nine of these schools play football in the OVC; one plays football in another conference; and two do not play football at all. All members are public schools except for the league's newest member, Belmont.

School Location Founded Type Nickname Joined Football member?
Austin Peay State University Clarksville, Tennessee 1927 Public Governors &
Lady Govs
1962[a 1] Green tickY
Belmont University Nashville, Tennessee 1890 Private Bruins 2012 Red XN
Eastern Illinois University Charleston, Illinois 1895 Public Panthers 1996 Green tickY
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, Kentucky 1906 Public Colonels[a 2] 1948 Green tickY
Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, Alabama 1883 Public Gamecocks 2003 Green tickY
Morehead State University Morehead, Kentucky 1922 Public Eagles 1948 Red XN[a 3]
Murray State University Murray, Kentucky 1922 Public Racers[a 4] 1948 Green tickY
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
(SIU Edwardsville)
Edwardsville, Illinois 1966 Public Cougars 2008 Red XN
Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, Missouri 1873 Public Redhawks 1991 Green tickY
Tennessee State University Nashville, Tennessee 1912 Public Tigers &
Lady Tigers
1986 Green tickY
Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, Tennessee 1912 Public Golden Eagles 1949 Green tickY
University of Tennessee at Martin
(UT Martin)
Martin, Tennessee 1927 Public Skyhawks 1992 Green tickY
  1. 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.
  2. The women's basketball team uses the nickname "Lady Colonels", but all other women's teams use "Colonels".
  3. Morehead State has a football team, but it plays in the Pioneer Football League instead of the OVC.
  4. The baseball team uses "Thoroughbreds" as its nickname instead of "Racers".

Associate members[change | change source]

The OVC has one "associate" member—i.e., a school that plays a sport in the OVC that its main conference does not sponsor.

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

Former members[change | change source]

Nine schools have been full members, but are no longer in the league.

School Location Founded Type Nickname Joined Left Current conference
University of Akron Akron, Ohio 1870 Public Zips 1980 1987 MAC
East Tennessee State University Johnson City, Tennessee 1911 Public Buccaneers 1958 1978 SoCon
University of Evansville Evansville, Indiana 1854 Private Purple Aces 1948 1952 Missouri Valley
University of Louisville Louisville, Kentucky 1798 Public Cardinals 1948 1949 ACC
Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia 1837 Public Thundering Herd 1949 1952 C-USA
Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, Tennessee 1911 Public Blue Raiders 1952 2000 C-USA
Samford University Homewood, Alabama 1841 Private Bulldogs 2003 2008 SoCon
Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, Kentucky 1906 Public Hilltoppers &
Lady Toppers
1948 1982[b 1] C-USA
Youngstown State University Youngstown, Ohio 1906 Public Penguins 1981 1988 Horizon League
MVFC (football)
  1. Western Kentucky's football team returned to the OVC for the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Former associate members[change | change source]

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
OVC sport
Columbus State University Columbus, Georgia 1958 Public Cougars Rifle 2012 2015 Peach Belt (Div. II) None (dropped rifle in 2015)

References[change | change source]

  • "OVC History". Ohio Valley Conference. Retrieved August 4, 2014.