Leathernecks to join Ohio Valley Conference

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 1:39 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - Western Illinois University Director of Athletics Paul A. Bubb announced Friday the Leathernecks are becoming the newest members of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) for all of the University’s Division I Athletics programs.

According to Bubb 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.”

Bubb stated 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.

Bubb stated 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.”

According to Bubb 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.

“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.”

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