USI announces Ohio Valley Conference as partner for NCAA Division I reclassification
February 8, 2022
On Wednesday, February 9, the University of Southern Indiana accepted an invitation to join the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) as it's Division I partner. The partnership allows the University to move forward with reclassification in the NCAA prior to a June 1 deadline. Upon acceptance, the transition process takes four years to complete.
USI would begin competing in the Ohio Valley Conference at the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year and would leave the GLVC at the end of this academic year. Although USI may be eligible for conference championships during the four-year transition, it would not be eligible for NCAA championships.
"This is an important day for USI and for our athletic programs," said USI President Ronald S. Rochon. "We are honored to have been invited and to accept an invitation from the Ohio Valley Conference as we transition to Division I athletics-the highest level of athletic play. The OVC has an impressive record of stability and success, and they will be a strong partner for us as we make this logical step of growth and expansion and as we work to meet our strategic plan goal of elevating the visibility and reputation of this great institution. This is not only a great opportunity for USI but also for this community and state."
USI joins OVC member institutions University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Eastern Illinois University, Morehead State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee at Martin. USI is only the 23rd full-time member in the 74-year history of the Ohio Valley Conference.
"We are delighted the University of Southern Indiana will become the newest member of the Ohio Valley Conference," said Beth DeBauche, OVC Commissioner. "Given USI's history of athletic success, including its national championships, its commitment to student-athlete academic achievement and its visionary leadership, we are confident they will be a tremendous addition to our conference. We are excited to add another exemplary member and start the next chapter in our rich conference history."
USI is a founding member of the GLVC and began competing in 1979 with a substantial history of athletic success including 188 NCAA Tournament appearances and 231 athletes earning All-American honors. USI has 10 NCAA II individual National Championships in Cross Country and Track & Field, and 16 NCAA II Regional Championships in Baseball, Men's Basketball, Women' Basketball, Men's Cross Country, Women's Cross Country and Softball.
"We are excited to begin competing at the Division I level, and the Ohio Valley Conference will be an excellent fit for us as we embark on that journey," said Jon Mark Hall, USI Athletic Director. "As a founding member, we are grateful for the partnership and success we have had in the GLVC and look forward to competing at that level for the remainder of this year. Our strong record of GLVC and Division II success has prepared us for this move. Today, we look to a new era of competitiveness for our athletic programs and dare to strive for success at the highest level of play."
In 2018, USI won the NCAA II Softball National Championship, becoming the first softball team in Indiana to win a NCAA championship. In 2010, USI was the first GLVC member and university in the state of Indiana to win a national championship in baseball, repeating in 2014 to become the first NCAA II program to win multiple team titles. Men's Basketball won the NCAA II National Championship in 1995 with 3.9 million viewers watching them on CBS Sports.
USI boasts a strong academic record as well with 228 Academic All-GLVC athletes in 2021-22 and 35 Academic All-America honors. Student athletes maintain an average GPA of 3.29 and are retained at a high percentage . "Our academic core values and goals will remain the same throughout this transition and as we look to the future," said Hall. "Academic integrity has always been, and will continue to be, one of our highest priorities."
Find out more about USI's transition to Division I athletics and the OVC at USI.edu/WeDare.
About the OVC
Now in its 74th year, the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) continues to build on the success that has made it the nation's eighth-oldest NCAA Division I conference. Founded in 1948, the OVC is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, and has been located in the Nashville metropolitan area since 1979.
The OVC sponsors baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis and track for men, and basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track, volleyball and beach volleyball for women. The OVC also sponsors combined men's and women's rifle.
OVC teams have garnered national championships in football and national team and individual titles in rifle, cross country, track and golf. Over the last seven years, the league has had multiple teams in NCAA Championships in baseball, men's basketball, football and rifle, and has won NCAA Tournament games in baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball.
Since 2018, the OVC has hosted its men's and women's basketball championships at the Ford Center in Evansville, including setting attendance records in 2019. Additionally, the OVC hosts neutral site championships in baseball, softball, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's golf and men's and women's tennis.
When the OVC celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, full league membership, in addition to the University of Southern Indiana, will include the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Eastern Illinois University, Morehead State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee at Martin.
During the 2020-21 academic year, a record 1,718 OVC student-athletes were named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll for achieving a 3.25 GPA or higher, while a record 356 earned the OVC Academic Medal of Honor for compiling a perfect 4.0 GPA.
The OVC has a multi-year media rights agreement with ESPN as well as a sponsorship agreement with LEARFIELD collegiate sports marketing company.