With addition of Belmont, OVC announces plan to break into divisions

Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:40pm
Staff reports

With the addition of Belmont, the Ohio Valley Conference has decided to adopt a divisional format for men’s and women’s basketball schedules, beginning with the 2012-13 academic year.

Belmont is leaving the Atlantic Sun and officially joins the Ohio Valley on July 1, becoming the league’s 12th member school. The conference, which is headquartered in Brentwood, has never been larger since forming in 1948.

Belmont will join Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State and Morehead State in the East Division. Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Tennessee-Martin make up the Western Division.

Teams will play their divisional members twice while matching up against teams from the other division once for a 16-game conference schedule.

Divisions were decided based on geography and balance while also attempting to keep rivalries — present and future — intact. The finalized men’s and women’s basketball schedules will be released in the coming weeks.

The OVC Championships sub-committee is currently studying conference tournament seeding and bracketing with the new divisional system in play. The schools’ athletic directors are expected to finalize a format soon.

Softball and volleyball will use the schedules based on a divisional format but it has not been determined if those sports will formally recognize divisions. Baseball, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis will not use divisional play as those sports have less than 12 participating teams.