Earlier this week, Ohio Valley Conference commissioner Beth DeBauche stressed to local and regional media that the league “will value the conference,” in reference to any potential opportunities at a fall sports schedule.
The OVC Board of Presidents agreed with these sentiments, and on Wednesday afternoon ratified the postponement of fall Olympic sports until Sept. 17 — and to conduct conference-only competition in women’s soccer and volleyball for the 2020 season.
This includes the delay of competitive men’s and women’s cross country, and the non-competitive portion of schedules involved with men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, baseball and softball.
It does not, however, “include football at this time, due to existing contractual matters.”
“Certainly, conference championships play a critical role, and we would hope — in terms of sequence — that the conference would make its decisions, and then the NCAA would make its championship decisions thereafter,” DeBauche said earlier this week, via Zoom. “We have talked very much about the value of conference play. And conference membership working with another.”
According to OVC officials, the delay comes for a number of reasons:
• It’s additional time to prepare for the upcoming seasons under new and evolving health guidelines.
• It staggers the start of seasons for institutions, which are also dealing with the impact of managing the return of its student bodies.
• It provides a floor plan and a rubric for return, with the competitive schedule for winter and spring sports expected to be “unchanged” at this time.
For Murray State, this immediately impacts a women’s soccer team that has boasted a strong non-conference schedule for the past half-decade, and a volleyball team that typically spends its first three months of the season competing in weekly national tournaments away from Racer Arena.
However, according to the OVC: “Teams will have the opportunity to train and practice under the approved safety protocols established in partnership with the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines, each institution and local public health experts.”
The OVC Board of Presidents is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday in order to make further decisions regarding the league’s immediate sports calendar — most likely to specifically address football operations this season.
At this moment, Murray State football has three non-conference games on its schedule (at Georgia State on Sept. 3; vs. Tarleton State on Sept. 12; at Louisville on Sept. 19), with conference play set to begin at Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 26.