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Western Illinois to join Ohio Valley Conference; football to play 1 more season in Missouri Valley

MACOMB, Ill. (AP) — Western Illinois will become a member of the Ohio Valley Conference on July 1, though the Leathernecks' football team will play the 2023 season in the Missouri Valley Football Conference before making the move.

The Ohio Valley on Friday announced Western Illinois would become the 11th member in a conference with schools in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.

Western Illinois' football team had played in the Missouri Valley and its previous iterations since 1985. The Leathernecks' other teams have been in the Summit League since it was founded as the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference in 1982.

The Ohio Valley plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, same as the Missouri Valley.

“This represents a new start, and a new era for Leatherneck athletics against some old rivalries, as well as some new teams in our geographic footprint,” athletic director Paul Bubb said. "When you look at the schools in the Ohio Valley Conference, you see schools which are similar in enrollment, the size of communities where they exist, the academic programs they offer and the athletic budgets each has to work with at the Division I level.”

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