VIENNA - Ohio Valley University has a new home.
Beginning with the 2013-14 academic year, the school will part ways with what will essentially be a defunct West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and turn its sights to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
The announcement became official Tuesday night as WVIAC members OVU, Alderson-Broaddus and Davis & Elkins accepted invitations to partner with the G-MAC.
"We've landed on our feet," OVU director of athletics Dennis Cox said.
On Monday, 12 colleges in West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia - including nine from the WVIAC - announced the formation of an all-sports athletic conference (the Mountain East Conference) for the fall of 2013. With Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill expected to accept invitations to join the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference upon the conclusion of the 2012-13 season, only four members remained in the WVIAC.
One solution meant seeking membership into the G-MAC. Bluefield State backed out of the initial plan, so another vote was conducted Monday by presidents from the six member schools. The vote was unanimously in favor of league expansion.
"The G-MAC is excited about the recent developments regarding membership and is looking forward to flourishing with the addition of Alderson-Broaddus, Davis & Elkins and Ohio Valley," G-MAC commissioner Tom Daeger said. "These institutions are committed to creating a quality Division II athletic conference that will benefit the experiences of their student-athletes and will prove to be valuable additions to the membership."
OVU is practically getting in on the ground floor in a conference which was formed in October 2011 and approved by the NCAA Division II Membership Committee in February 2012 as an NCAA Division II member conference.
Charter members include three schools from Ohio (Cedarville, Central State and Ursuline), two from Kentucky (Georgetown and Kentucky Wesleyan) and one from Tennessee (Trevecca Nazarene).
"The G-MAC would appear to be a comfortable home for OVU because there are so many institutions with a similar mission," Cox said. "We look forward to playing that out."
According to a press release submitted by the G-MAC, the addition of the three new schools will allow the G-MAC to satisfy membership requirement for active status as a conference for 2013-14, as it continues to work through the Educational Assessment Program in 2012-13.
The conference, which was originally scheduled to move into 2013-14 with only five active members, will now anticipate starting the year with at least nine total institutions, and at least seven active members as the G-MAC continues to explore further expansion opportunities.
"The G-MAC is committed to the goal of establishing a model NCAA Division II athletic conference," Daeger said. "The conference will continue to remain proactive in growing membership to achieve the objective of providing a quality experience for all of its members."
As for the WVIAC's future, the upcoming season appears to be its last. The league was founded in 1924. Both West Virginia University and Marshall University were members at one time. OVU joined in 1999.
"If nostalgia had carried the day, this wouldn't have happened," Cox continued. "To think a conference that has the tradition and the age of the (WVIAC) would no longer exist ... it is sad.
"I feel for (WVIAC) commissioner Barry Blizzard, who gave his heart and soul to this conference. Not only was he important to the conference, but he's also held high office in the NCAA. I hopes he lands on his feet like the rest of us."