Murray State Racers accept invitation to join Missouri Valley Conference in July

Murray State accepted an invitation from the Missouri Valley Conference on Friday, and will officially become the league's 11th member on July 1.

At least 13 of the Racers' 15 sports will join the MVC, with its football program yet to officially join a conference and its rifle program continuing in the Ohio Valley Conference.

"Excited for Murray State, and excited for the Missouri Valley Conference," MVC commissioner Jeff Jackson said. "Everyone is aware of the tremendous success Murray has had, especially in the sport of basketball. The Racers will be a fantastic addition to our conference."

Murray State joined the Ohio Valley Conference in 1948 as one of the league's original six members, alongside Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky, Evansville, Louisville and Western Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky left in 2021, leaving Morehead as the lone founding school still in the conference.

"We are very excited as we advance Murray State University and Racer Athletics into our second century," Murray State president Dr. Bob Jackson said. "The Missouri Valley Conference is one of the premier conferences in Division I athletics and we look forward to continuing our long record of success in this conference."

Murray State is one of two schools joining the Missouri Valley, with fellow OVC school Belmont officially announced in September. The Racers and Bruins will effectively replace Loyola Chicago, which is leaving for the Atlantic 10 Conference later this year. The Missouri Valley also is reportedly looking at adding a 12th member, with Illinois-Chicago, UT Arlington and Kansas City all linked recently to potential moves.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Valley has now lost five programs in the past two years, with Murray State, Belmont and Austin Peay leaving in 2022-23, following Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State, which both left in 2021. So far, it has added Sun Belt Conference member Little Rock, which will join for 2022-23.

Murray State's men's basketball's program will help make up for the MVC's loss of Loyola Chicago. The Racers have consistently produced high-major head coaches in the past 20 years and recently saw guard Ja Morant selected No. 2 overall in the 2019 NBA draft.

Murray State has been to 17 men's basketball NCAA tournaments, advancing to the second round on six occasions. It has won 27 regular-season championships in the Ohio Valley.