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Murray State Considering Changing Collegiate Athletic Conference

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Murray State University is considering opportunities and investments in a new intercollegiate athletic conference. 

President Bob Davies hinted in a special Board of Regents meeting on Friday that MSU is being approached by one or more conferences but wouldn’t say which one. He said intercollegiate athletics is an integral part of the university and that it should meet the same standards as other departments when it comes to recruiting, retaining and graduating students. The Board approved Davies and the Athletics Department proceeding with this consideration.

Davies outlined various opportunities involved in Murray State potentially switching with regards to revenue and enrollment. He said changing to a new conference should be seen as a long term investment. 

Director of Athletics Allen Ward said while switching conferences would present costs like travel and recruiting efforts there could also be a return on investment. He said it is too early to know what specific costs would entail. He said the university is evaluating options to make sure a change isn't just a good fit for now, but also for 50 or 60 years from now.

MSU is a founding member of the Ohio Valley Conference, dating back to 1948. Ward said, "We're founding members and have been there for a long time and have a lot of colleagues, a lot of friends in our league and we'll continue to have them no matter what happens with this particular situation." He added if Murray State ends up not switching they would stay in the OVC.

Ward also wouldn’t specify which conference the university might switch to: "I can't comment specifically about what conferences that we're in the mix with. There have been a few of them out there. I think that speaks a lot about our program and out of respect for the process I wouldn't comment on any particular conference."

Rumors have circulated that Murray State may fill Wichita State University’s vacancy in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Davies read a letter in the meeting from former Murray State president Constantine "Deno" Curris, who left MSU to preside over University of Northern Iowa. UNI is a member of the MVC. While the specific conference wasn't read, it was heavily alluded to in the letter from Curris as a potentially good investment for Murray State as it was, as he said, for UNI.

Ward said sometimes the decision to switch conferences could take up to two years, but said Wichita was an example of a relatively fast change. According to FanRag Sports, the Kansas university joined the American Athletic Conference earlier this month.

Ward predicts more details will emerge over the next few weeks. The Board of Regents will likely call a special meeting to approve any such switch.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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