VIENNA - The mass exodus from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference has left several league members searching for alternatives, including Ohio Valley University.
OVU's Board of Trustees met Monday afternoon to move forward with a plan to pursue membership into the Great Midwest Athletic Conference for the 2013-14 academic year.
"We are waiting on word from the Great Midwest Athletic Conference," OVU director of athletics Dennis Cox said. "The original agreement had four (WVIAC) schools going to the G-MAC and now it appears that Bluefield State is not going to do it."
The G-MAC is headquartered in the Indianapolis metro area and includes six charter members, including three from Ohio (Cedarville, Central State and Ursuline), two from Kentucky (Georgetown and Kentucky Wesleyan) and one from Tennessee (Trevecca Nazarene).
The G-MAC was approved by the NCAA Division II Membership Committee in February of 2012 as a member conference effective Sept. 1, 2012, and will be working through an education assessment program with the goal of beginning competition as the 24th active Division II conference by 2013-14.
"This conference is very attractive primarily because it is made of small, private schools which are faith-based," Cox said. "Just like Alderson-Broaddus, we are excited about this. The only drawback is that this conference is not in West Virginia.
"But this is not official - we can't put the rubber stamp on it until their board of presidents agree."
With Bluefield State apparently backing out, the three targeted schools for membership into the G-MAC are OVU, Alderson-Broaddus and Davis & Elkins.
A total of nine WVIAC schools are joining the newly created 12-member Mountain East Conference. That leaves Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill, which are expected to accept invitations to join the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
"Certainly there were schools in the (WVIAC) who didn't want to leave, and I do feel for them," Cox said. "However, it all comes down to football is king - even at the Division II level - and they have football programs they are heavily invested in and feel they don't have much choice."
OVU has been a member of the WVIAC since 1999. Fighting Scots athletics joined the Division II ranks one year later.
As for the future of the WVIAC after this season, "I don't think there is one," Cox said.