The OVC has struck a deal to fill potential scheduling gaps left behind by the football programs leaving the conference.
On Monday, the OVC and Southland Conference announced a scheduling alliance for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, with games being scheduled to fill open non-conference dates.
The announcement comes after OVC member Austin Peay announced last month that they will be leaving the conference on July 1, 2022, leaving the OVC with just 6 football programs.
Jacksonville State and Eastern Kentucky left the OVC earlier this year and Belmont will join Austin Peay in leaving next July.
The Southland is also down to just six football programs with the upcoming departure of Lamar, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian and Central Arkansas.
Six football teams is the minimum number required for a conference to receive an automatic bid for the FCS football playoffs.
Both conferences are in the process of looking for new members.
Both OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche and Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett each gave their thoughts on the alliance in the announcement.
“Our Presidents, Chancellors and Athletic Directors have enthusiastically supported this alliance,” said DeBauche. “We are delighted to work together to promote one another and provide a quality student-athlete experience. This partnership strengthens not only both football leagues, but the FCS overall with quality non-conference matchups. Given the changing Division I landscape, this demonstrates ways that conferences can collaborate to support one another.”
“We greatly anticipate the possibilities of a beneficial partnership with the Ohio Valley Conference,” said Burnett. “The Southland presidents and athletic directors have found this to be an exciting competitive opportunity with their OVC peers, and we all look forward to some outstanding and meaningful FCS crossover games during the next two seasons. We all appreciate the strong level of interest and cooperation between our two leagues.”
Both conferences are bringing highly-regarded programs to the table.
Both have a currently-ranked team, with the OVC having No. 17 Tennessee-Martin and the Southland bringing No. 11 Southeastern Louisiana.
The OVC’s remaining schools come July will be Eastern Illinois, Morehead State, Murray State, Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee-Martin.
Morehead State and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville do not have football programs.
The Southland’s football programs will include Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana and Texas A&M University-Commerce.
The Southland’s non-football members are Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and New Orleans.
More specifics regarding the alliance will be announced at a later date.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]