For the first time since 2017, the Missouri Valley Conference is expanding, as the league announced the addition of Belmont University on Tuesday morning.
Belmont, a private institution located in Nashville, Tennessee, will join the conference for the start of the 2022-23 school year.
“Joining the Missouri Valley Conference represents a natural step forward for our already high-achieving and well-respected programs,” Belmont President L. Gregory Jones said via release. “Given the collective accomplishments of the conference and the prominence of its member institutions, we believe this is a great move for Belmont and sets us up for even greater success in the future.”
Belmont is joining the MVC from the Ohio Valley Conference, where it had competed since 2012.
The Bruins compete in 15 Valley-sponsored sports, including basketball, soccer, women’s volleyball, cross-country and track and field.
Belmont experienced a brief taste of the Valley in 2000-01 when the Bruins were affiliate members in the MVC for men’s soccer, but departed after just one season.
“Joining the MVC will elevate our level of competition, enhance our recruiting, and increase our opportunities for national exposure,” Belmont Director of Athletics Scott Corley said. “We look forward to competing for championships in The Valley against so many quality institutions.”
Belmont men’s basketball team has made eight trips to the NCAA Tournament, including two runs of three straight berths from 2006-2008 and 2011-2013. The Bruins made the tournament in 2019 and are coming off a 26-4 campaign, their 11th season in a row with 20 or more wins.
The Bruins’ women’s basketball team is arguably even stronger, reaching the NCAA Tournament every year that the tournament has been held since 2016, helping head coach Bart Brooks reach 100 wins quicker than any other coach in NCAA basketball history.
Belmont also has fielded a strong men’s cross country teams, reaching the NCAA National Championships every year since 2018.
“This is truly an exciting day for the Missouri Valley Conference,” MVC Commissioner Jeff Jackson said via release. “The MVC has long established itself as one of the premier leagues in the country – especially in the sport of basketball. I have no doubt that Belmont University will prove to be an outstanding partner and further enhance the brand and status of The Valley.”
The addition of Belmont is the Valley’s first since adding Valparaiso in 2017 to replace Wichita State, who departed for the American Athletic Conference. The institution became the subject of speculation in 2013 when the MVC wanted Belmont to fill a void left by Creighton but the Bruins stayed in the OVC, citing shorter travel distances.
The insertion of Belmont now leaves the MVC with 11 teams, which has led to speculation that the conference may add a 12th school in the near future.