Thursday, the Ohio Valley conference voted against adding two Division II schools to the league, Northern Kentucky University and the University of Northern Alabama, and will remain a 12-school league for the foreseeable future.
It’s a mildly surprising decision, given the OVC’s additions of Belmont and SIU Edwardsville into the league, and the general theme of expansion in the collegiate landscape over the past year.
From a new article on Cincinnati.com, the school’s president, clearly upset with the decision, said that he felt the OVC was threatened. From the article:
OVC schools apparently had concerns about whether NKU’s lack of a football program – which loses significant dollars at nearly all colleges – and the new Bank of Kentucky Center would give it too big an advantage over other OVC schools.
In case you didn’t know, the Bank of Kentucky Center is a 10,000 seat facility, which, assuming the school could fill it, would be the largest basketball stadium for any OVC team.
But if the OVC is concerned about balance, and not allowing a basketball school with no football program to overpower the conference…
Can somebody explain the decision to accept Belmont?
Because the way I see it, Belmont is simply a Division I version of NKU: a great basketball program without any football program.
In fact, 8 of the 11 schools in the OVC voted to accept Northern Kentucky, according to the article, including EKU, Murray State, and Morehead State.
Yet, the OVC is passing up a chance to enter into the Cincinnati media market, because of balance. The same balance they upset less than a year ago when Belmont was accepted into the league.
Every conference wants, deep at their core, to be a football conference. They look at the BCS conferences, and see that model, which works for those conferences, and want so bad to emulate it.
But the OVC isn’t, and hasn’t been in years, a football conference.
And it appeared the OVC had learned that, when they accepted two non-football schools in the Bruins and Cougars.
Except they haven’t.
I could have accepted that the conference didn’t want to become a place where every Division II school in the south made the jump to Division I.
I could have accepted that the conference thought having more than 12 teams would be too much for a small conference to sustain?
But balance? This is a cop out at best.
One of the underlying concerns I doubt you will ever see announced is that the OVC realizes they will eventually lose Jacksonville State, and they’re trying to keep themselves in a position to replace them with another high FCS football program.
Because football still matters.
Even in the OVC.