Officials from Murray State University welcomed Jeff Jackson, president of the Missouri Valley Conference into the Murray State family with a jockey worn Silk in a celebratory event on Monday in the CFSB Center. Pictured from left to right: Eric Crigler (Regent Chair), Jeff Jackson(MVC Commissioner), Dr. Bob Jackson (Murray State President) and Kevin Saal (Athletic Director).

Murray State University held an event on Monday in celebration of the recent announcement that The Racers would be joining the Missouri Valley Conference. The event featured a panel style discussion with the Universities president, athletic director, the Missouri Valley Conference commissioner and the schools regent chair. It also featured video productions of past and present Racers sharing congratulations to the school as well as what it has meant to be a part of the original Ohio Valley Conference and the changes ahead. The event welcomed Racer fans and alumni to the CFSB Center and was also televised on ESPN+.

With the announcement comes many promising opportunities ahead for Murray State athletics but one thing that each member of the panel noted is the 74 years that the University has been a member of the OVC. Murray State helped build the OVC to what it is today as one of the founding schools of the conference.

2022 marks the 100 year anniversary of Murray State, and the schools president; Dr. Bob Jackson says the move to a new conference in its centennial year is a big step.

“We are 100 years old in 2022 and we have been playing intercollegiate athletics nearly that entire time,” Jackson said. “I think it’s only appropriate that in our second hundred-year era that we move to the Missouri Valley Conference and we are all very excited in regard to that move.”

The Racers will join 10 already established schools in the conference on July, 1 2022. Belmont University will join in the fall of this year and Loyola University Chicago will leave the conference around the same time to make an 11-school conference.

Layola Chicago won the MVC conference championship last year in men’s basketball and with their departure, the Racers will look to take that spot as conference champions next season.

“March Madness in St. Louis will never be the same once the Racers arrive in St. Louis next year,” Jackson told MVC commissioner Jeff Jackson, followed by clear fan approval applause.

Of course moving to a new conference doesn’t happen overnight. Many people from all parties are involved and nobody is more aware of that than the MVC commissioner.

“This is never an easy process, there’s a lot of variables in play, there’s a lot of moving pieces that you have to go into great detail in order to get this accomplished,” Commissioner Jackson said. “But Murray State has stood out from the very start as an institution that would be very special and will enhance the opportunity for the Missouri Valley to reach its goals and aspirations to be one of the best conferences in the division one landscape.”

As someone who oversees all of the athletic programs and activities at Murray State, Kevin Saal, the athletic director noted that with big steps come big responsibility and much gratitude.

“I want to talk about three key points: appreciation, recognition and understanding,” Saal said. “First an appreciation for where we have been, we stand on a platform built by others and we benefit from that platform. We have an incredible opportunity before us, we are joining an established, highly competitive, elite performing league and we are making a significant step competitively in all sports. We also have an understanding that great challenges are ahead of us, but those challenges do not impact our core values.”

Many more things will be worked out between now and July first but until then it is business as usual, especially for winter and spring athletics.

Because while it is exciting to think about the future, athletics continue and competition is still to be played in the Ohio Valley Conference for many teams at Murray State. Winter sports will continue as scheduled followed by spring athletics, as they all compete for one last chance at leaving their mark on the OVC.

Both the Men’s and Women’s basketball teams will take on Tennessee State at home on Thursday, Jan. 13 and the Women’s Track and Field team will compete on Jan. 14 at Commodore Challenge.

Follow Jared Jensen on Twitter, @jcjensen94

Follow Jared Jensen on Twitter, @jcjensen94

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