By the Ohio Valley Conference
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The University of Southern Indiana (USI) has accepted an invitation to join the Ohio Valley Conference.
USI, which sponsors 16 of the OVC's 19 championship sports, will become official members on July 1, 2022.
They will join 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 as OVC full member institutions.
USI, which is located in Evansville, Indiana, marks only the 23rd full-time member in the 74-year history of the Ohio Valley Conference.
"We are delighted that 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, which currently competes at the NCAA Division II level, will begin its reclassification process to the NCAA Division I level during the 2022-23 academic year when they will be included in OVC regular-season schedules and be eligible to compete in OVC Championships. USI will be eligible to earn automatic bids to NCAA Championships beginning in 2026-27, its first full season of full Division I membership.
"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's athletic programs have combined for 188 NCAA Tournament appearances, including winning National Championships in baseball (2010, 2014), men's basketball (1995), and softball (2018). Additionally, they have won 10 Individual National Championships in the sports of cross country and track and field.
In 2019, USI opened the state-of-the-art Screaming Eagles Arena, a 4,800-seat on-campus venue that serves as home to all USI's athletic programs, including men's and women's basketball and volleyball, which play in the facility.
USI boasts a strong academic record as well with 228 Academic All-Conference athletes in 2021-22 and 35 all-time Academic All-America honors. USI student-athletes hold an average GPA of 3.29 and a high record of academic retention.
"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."
Founded in 1948, the OVC is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, and has been located in the Nashville metropolitan area since 1979.
Over the past seven years, OVC teams have placed multiple teams in NCAA Championship fields in baseball, men's basketball, football, and rifle. Additionally, over that time frame OVC teams have won NCAA Tournament games in the sports of baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, football, soccer, softball, and volleyball. Over that period the league has also had both a male and female golf student-athlete advance to the National Championship and in the sport of cross country had at least one athlete advance to the National Championship meet in each of the past 13 years.
Since 2018 the league has hosted its Men's and Women's Basketball Championship at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, including setting attendance records in 2019. Additionally, the OVC hosts neutral site championships in the sports of baseball, softball, men's and women's indoor track and field, men's and women's golf, and men's and women's tennis.
During the 2020-21 academic year, a record 1,718 student-athletes were named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll for achieving a 3.25 grade point average or higher, while a record 356 earned the OVC Academic Medal of Honor for compiling a perfect 4.0 GPA.
About the Ohio Valley Conference
The Ohio Valley Conference was founded in 1948 and is in its seventh decade of competition, making it the eighth-oldest Division I athletic conference. Now in its 74th year, OVC teams have garnered national championships in football along with national team or individual titles in the sports of rifle, cross country, track and golf. Over the past seven years the league has placed multiple teams in NCAA Championship fields in the sports baseball, men's basketball, football and rifle. In the 1950s the OVC became a pioneer when Morehead State became one of the first non-traditionally Black mid-southern institutions to accept an African American student. Soon after the passing of Title IX legislation, the OVC began formulating plans for women's athletics which began in 1977. The OVC has long been a national leader in sportsmanship and in 1995 implemented a first-of-its-kind Sportsmanship Statement, a policy that promotes principles of fair play, ethical conduct, and respect for one's opponent. The OVC has a multi-year media rights agreement with ESPN and well as a sponsorship agreement with LEARFIELD. For more information, visit www.OVCSports.com.
Founded in 1965, the University of Southern Indiana enrolls over 9,750 dual credit, undergraduate and graduate students in more than 130 areas of study. A public higher education institution, located on a beautiful 1,400-acre campus in Evansville, Indiana, USI offers programs through the College of Liberal Arts, Romain College of Business, College of Nursing and Health Professions, and the Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education. USI is a Carnegie Foundation Community Engaged University and offers continuing education and special programs to more than 15,000 participants annually through Outreach and Engagement. The University offers study-abroad opportunities in more than 60 countries and is host to international students from around the globe.