Leatherneck Athletics Moving to Ohio Valley Conference for All Sports


Western Illinois University Director of Athletics Paul A. Bubb announced today (Friday, May 12) that the Leathernecks are becoming the newest members of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) for all of the University’s Division I Athletics programs.

The agreement between the University and the OVC was signed by WIU President Guiyou Huang Friday morning.

“This is going to be an excellent new endeavor for Western Illinois University,” said Dr. Huang. “We are excited to join our peers of similar size and communities, and we look forward to great competition.”

WIU will depart the Summit League for all sports beginning this fall, and will leave the Missouri Valley Football Conference prior to the Fall 2024 football season. The Fall 2023 Leatherneck football schedule will be played in the MVFC as previously scheduled.

WIU received an invitation from the OVC Board President Thursday to join the conference, effective July 1.

“This represents a new start, and a new era for Leatherneck Athletics against some old rivalries, as well as some new teams in our geographic footprint,” said Bubb. “When you look at the schools in the Ohio Valley Conference, you see schools which are similar in enrollment, the size of communities where they exist, the academic programs they offer and the athletic budgets each has to work with at the Division I level.”

The University joined the Summit League in 1982, and the MVFC in 1985. Leatherneck Athletics has been a member of both leagues since their founding, then called the Mid-Continent Conference and the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference respectively.

The Ohio Valley Conference was founded in 1948, and is based in Brentwood, TN. Other schools in the conference include Eastern Illinois (EIU); Lindenwood (MO); Little Rock (AR); Morehead State (KY); SEMO (Southeast Missouri); SIUE (Edwardsville); USI (IN); Tennessee State; Tennessee Tech; and UT Martin (TN).

The OVC has an extensive history of athletic and academic excellence, and WIU becomes the 25th full-time member of the conference in its 75-year history.

“We are delighted Western Illinois has decided to join the OVC,” said OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche. “The WIU Athletics programs have long competed against OVC institutions given the similarity of programs and geographic proximity. Accordingly, there is a high level of comfort and excitement about the Leathernecks becoming part of the OVC community. We cannot wait to extend a warm welcome to WIU’s student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.”

For more information on the OVC conference, visit OVCsports.com. For more information on Leatherneck Athletics, visit goleathernecks.com.

***Courtesy of Western Illinois University***

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