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Last week, this newsletter reported that Austen Peay was expected to leave the Ohio Valley Conference for the ASUN, a move that the school shortly confirmed. It appears that APSU won't be the only school to leave the OVC in the near future.
Multiple industry sources confirm to Extra Points that Belmont University is also expected to depart the OVC, and could announce a move to the Missouri Valley Conference as early as next week.
Requests for comment at Belmont, the Missouri Valley and Ohio Valley have not been immediately returned, and this newsletter will be updated should they respond.
Unlike APSU, or other recent OVC defectors Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State, Belmont does not sponsor FCS football. But the school is unquestionably the strongest and most prestigious men's basketball program in the league. The Bruins have won at least 20 games in 11 consecutive seasons, making five NCAA Tournaments in that span. The women's basketball program is also very strong, making five NCAA Tournaments since 2016. Belmont's women's squad upset #5 seed Gonzaga in the 2021 Tournament.
The addition of Belmont gives the MVC 11 teams, and further cements the league's reputation as one of the best basketball conferences outside the Power Six (P5 + Big East). I've previously reported that the MVC had interest in UT-Arlington as a possible expansion candidate, although I am told such an addition is not likely at this time. Should the MVC wish to make it an even 12, I'm told there would be no shortage of interested candidates, including schools in the OVC and Horizon League, as well as schools located farther outside the league's more traditional geographic footprint.
With the loss of Belmont, the OVC is down to just eight schools, and six FCS-football playing institutions. Industry sources have told me that they expect Western Illinois to eventually join the conference, but other potential expansion candidates are currently unknown. It is also possible that other schools, like Murray State, could decide to leave the league for other conferences.
I will update this newsletter as I learn additional information about this developing story, but I wanted to share what I've got with you.
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