COLUMN: Questions surrounding OVC departures


Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

An announcement was made Tuesday that will shake the already shaken OVC.

Belmont announced that it will be leaving the conference effective July 1, 2022, joining Austin Peay which announced its departure earlier this month.

Both of these schools are joining Jacksonville State and Eastern Kentucky, both of which left the OVC back in July.

All of these departures will greatly impact the remaining eight teams in the OVC, a conference that will soon have just two-thirds of the members it boasted just three months ago.

It is hard to say what all the effects will be for the conference, which has been looking for new schools to add.

For football, the OVC had already lost one of the top programs in the FCS when Jacksonville State left, and now Austin Peay’s departure means the OVC will lose another football powerhouse.

More concerning is the fact that the OVC now has only six teams. If one more leaves, the OVC would lose its automatic bid for the FCS playoffs.

But from a competitive standpoint, the departure of Jacksonville State and upcoming departure of Austin Peay opens the door for other teams to win the conference.

Jacksonville State won the OVC each year from 2014-2018 and once again in 2020. Austin Peay won in 2019.

Belmont’s departure has a similar effect, but on the conference’s basketball teams.

The Belmont men’s basketball team won the OVC regular season title seven times and the conference tournament three times while the women’s team has won the regular season title four times and the conference tournament five times.

The lack of Bruins in the OVC really opens up the top of the conference for other teams.

This may be of particular interest to the Eastern women’s basketball team, a program that has been on the upswing recently.

They have made the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons after finishing in last place as recently as the 2017-18 season.

And for the Eastern men’s basketball team, which is now in new hands with head coach Marty Simmons, they have one less powerhouse opponent to deal with as they work on building toward a run of sustained success.

There are many unknowns when it comes to conference realignment, and I am not smart enough to know what to expect for the most part.

Of course the OVC will be looking to add new schools to its ranks, which I think can be exciting. It will be fun to be introduced to new teams and players as they join the conference, and new rivalries can be formed.

It will also be fun to see other teams get a chance to win conference titles more frequently.