Austin Peay State University announced on Friday, Sept. 17 that their athletic programs will be joining the Atlantic Sun conference, effectively ending their membership with the Ohio Valley Conference.
The move will officially take place following the conclusion of the 2021-22 athletics season on July 1, 2022.
“I am excited to take this next step for the university and our athletics department,” said Austin Peay President Dr. Michael Licari. “The ASUN Conference will help us showcase all of the great things we’re doing athletically and academically. The ASUN will put us in new markets that will boost our recruiting ability and allow us to better engage our passionate alumni base. This is a move to position our University well both now and in the future.”
The Governors have been members of the OVC since 1962. They join former OVC members Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State to join the ASUN, as both programs made the move prior to the current season.
Along with JSU and EKU, the ASUN is home to football programs Central Arkansas, Kennesaw State and North Alabama. As the sixth football-playing school to join the program, APSU will give the conference the six minimum teams to be eligible for an automatic bid into the FCS football playoffs.
Additional ASUN members that Governors fans will become familiar with include Lipscomb, Florida Gulf Coast, Liberty, Bellarmine, Jacksonville, North Florida and Stetson.
“This is an incredible day for our university, our athletes and coaches and all citizens of Stacheville,” said APSU Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison. “I could not be more excited to help lead Austin Peay into a new era of growth, which will help expand and enhance our brand, our footprint and the quality of our product both athletically and academically. As challenging as this opportunity is—and make no mistake, we are facing a step up in competition level—it’s even more exciting to embark on this journey to elevate the profile of this department.
“From the beginning, I’ve said Austin Peay is a sleeping giant, a juggernaut hiding in plain sight with the right people in place to become great. Today is the next step down the path to greatness, and we are closer than ever to achieving the status we covet—to be the most complete athletics department in our league. And now, that league will be the ASUN.”
Compared to the OVC’s footprint spanning four states, the ASUN spans seven states, with over 10,000,000 television homes in its wake. Additionally, a study determined that there are around 45,000 APSU alumni in the area.
The Governors leave the OVC as one of the conferences’ storied members, having won 69 league titles and 21 since 2010.
“We have full respect for the OVC,” said APSU football coach Scotty Walden. “The decision that we made to go to the Atlantic Sun was fully based around what’s best for Austin Peay State University. I think it is a phenomenal step for the program. We say all the time that ‘stagnation leads to death.’ If we stay the same, we’re going to start declining. It’s about us taking a big step in wanting to be a national contender year-in and year-out… We’re really, really excited about that transition.”