USI joins Ohio Valley Conference


Photo by Uday Lomada

President Ronald Rochon (left) and Jon Mark Hall (right), university athletic director, listen as Beth DeBauche, Ohio Valley Commissioner, speaks at the press conference Wednesday.

Quinton Watt, Staff Writer

The University of Southern Indiana is joining the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). The announcement came from President Ronald Rochon and OVC commissioner, Beth DeBauche at Wednesday’s press conference.

“I’m happy for these students, this campus and this community,” Rochon said. “I am so elated at what’s going on at this institution.” 

The conference was held at the Screaming Eagles Arena. Coaches, trainers, athletes, the Evansville community and Mayor Lloyd Winnecke were in attendance for the press conference.

During the announcement, DeBauche said the reasons USI was considered for the OVC included tremendous leadership, consistency of values, the sports sponsorship, competitiveness and the geographical location. USI is located in the center of the OVC along the Ohio River.

Evansville has been the host for the OVC’s basketball championships since 2018.

Five universities have recently left the OVC: Murray State, Austin Peay State, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State. USI will be the second university, along with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, to join since the departure of the teams.

“The process started with USI before much of the membership transition began,” DeBauche said. “I’ve been watching the developments of USI for over 13 years.”

The Board of Trustees announced the decision to transition from Division II to Division I Monday after they made a unanimous 9-0 vote. The university will be leaving the Great Lakes Valley Conference after over 40 years.

University athletics will finish the 2021-2022 season in the GLVC. 

“We want USI to feel nurtured, cared for, so they can reach their full potential,” DeBauche said. “We welcome all of you to our OVC community with open arms.”