Belmont and the Missouri Valley Conference will jointly announce Tuesday that the Bruins will join the league in 2022, sources told CBS Sports.
Belmont is leaving the Ohio Valley Conference following the upcoming season, which will be the program’s 10th in that conference. (Belmont left the Atlantic Sun in 2012 to join the OVC.)
The news was first reported by Matt Brown of Extra Points.
In adding Belmont, the Missouri Valley will expand to 11 teams. Behind the scenes, Belmont had been heavily rumored in recent months to be leaving the OVC. The Bruins have grown into one of the most respected mid-major programs, having made eight NCAA Tournaments since 2006. The school was a longtime NAIA power before joining Division I in the late 1990s. It didn’t join a Division I league until 2001.
Since then, Belmont has ascended to become one of the best mid-major programs in basketball.
In the past 11 seasons, Belmont has a 277-86 record, amounting to one of the best win percentages (.763) in men’s Division I hoops in that span. It’s one of four programs to win at least 20 games in each of the last 11 seasons (joining Gonzaga, Kansas and Oregon). Belmont is 130-24 in the OVC in the past nine seasons, making it the second-most dominant team (to Gonzaga) inside its league in the past decade. Its 20 combined regular-season and conference tournament titles since 2006 are third most in men’s D-I (behind Gonzaga and Kansas).
And now, in advance of a 2021-22 season where Belmont could be the best mid-major team in the sport, the program is poised to be part of one of the best mid-major leagues in the country. In adding Belmont, the Missouri Valley could strengthen its membership so much that it can become a reliable two-bid (or better) NCAA Tournament league on an annual basis. Most conference realignment news is driven by football, but this is a basketball play through and through for one of the proudest basketball-first conferences in the country.
As for the OVC, losing Belmont is the latest damaging blow — and the worst of them — for a conference that has been heavily pilfered in the past year. Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State and Austin Peay have either left or are soon leaving for the ASUN. This leaves Murray State as the best program in that league, but sources told CBS Sports that Murray State is also actively trying to better position itself going forward by examining all of its conference options.
As of now, a Murray State move to the Missouri Valley is not considered imminent, sources said. That university essentially came in second a half-decade ago, when Valparaiso was chosen to be added to the league.