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Belmont latest to leave Ohio Valley, to join MVC

Belmont has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference and will become the league’s 11th member in the fall of 2022.

The Bruins have been a member of the Ohio Valley Conference since 2012 after spending 12 years in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“Joining the Missouri Valley Conference represents a natural step forward for our already high-achieving and well-respected programs,” Belmont president Dr. L. Gregory Jones said Tuesday. “Given the collective accomplishments of the conference and the prominence of its member institutions, we believe this is a great move for Belmont and sets us up for even greater success in the future.”

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“On behalf of our coaches and athletic staff, we are thrilled to become the newest member of the Missouri Valley Conference,” added Belmont athletic director Scott Corley. “Joining the MVC will elevate our level of competition, enhance our recruiting, and increase our opportunities for national exposure. We look forward to competing for championships in The Valley against so many quality institutions.”

This is a particularly noteworthy move for men’s and women’s basketball, where Belmont has been one of the best mid-major programs in the country in recent years.

On the men’s side, the Bruins have won at least a share of the regular-season title in 13 of the past 16 seasons and have finished no lower than second in the league. They’ve made eight NCAA tournament appearances over that stretch. Rick Byrd, who was selected to be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame this year, had been the head coach since 1986 and retired in 2019.

The women’s team has won five conference tournament titles in the last six years and also beat 5-seed Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament this past season.

“This is truly an exciting day for the Missouri Valley Conference,” Missouri Valley commissioner Jeff Jackson said. “The MVC has long established itself as one of the premier leagues in the country — especially in the sport of basketball. I have no doubt that Belmont University will prove to be an outstanding partner and further enhance the brand and status of The Valley.”

Belmont is now the fourth program to leave the Ohio Valley this year, following Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State and Austin Peay, who all joined the Atlantic Sun.

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