The Big South Conference and the Ohio Valley Conference will create an FCS football association beginning in 2023, the two leagues announced today.
The unique agreement combines the two conferences’ football membership to ensure NCAA championship access.
Six teams are needed for a conference to have an auto-bid into the FCS playoffs. Due to conference realignment, the Big South and the OVC are below that minimum requirement. In the last year, the Big South has lost Presbyterian, North Carolina A&T, Hampton, Monmouth, Kennesaw State, and North Alabama, and the OVC has lost Jacksonville State, Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay, and Murray State.
The association will feature nine teams that currently remain in these two conferences: Big South (4) — Robert Morris, Charleston Southern, Campbell, and Gardner-Webb; OVC (5) — UT Martin, SEMO, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, and Eastern Illinois.
Feb. 23 update: Lindenwood is expected to announce today its transition to D1 and join the OVC, growing the Big South-OVC association to 10 teams.
March 29 update: The Big South added Bryant as an associate football member, growing the Big South-OVC association to 11 teams.
Details of the association’s overall structure and administration have been outlined and are expected to be finalized, along with the 2023 schedule, in the coming months.
Dr. J. Bradley Creed, Chair of the Big South Council of Football Members, Chair of the Council of Chief Executive Officers, and President of Campbell University, and Dr. David Glassman, President of Eastern Illinois University and Chair of the OVC Board of Presidents, made the announcement, expressing their enthusiasm for this distinctive structure.
“The Big South – Ohio Valley Conference football association will strengthen the efforts of both conferences to provide greater opportunities for our student-athletes,” stated Dr. Creed. “This move has the unanimous support of the CEOs of the football schools in the Big South Conference, and we look forward to enlarging and enlivening the field of competition for our teams. I commend President Glassman and his colleagues in the OVC for their role in establishing this collaboration.”
“The OVC is pleased to come together with the Big South to establish a new FCS football model, aimed at ensuring outstanding competition and championship access for our student-athletes,” said Dr. Glassman. “The world of intercollegiate athletics is changing, and all of the OVC members are looking forward to working with Dr. Creed and the rest of the Big South presidents to establish a new paradigm for FCS football across our region. In addition, we welcome the participation of other leagues interested in working together for the betterment of intercollegiate athletics.”