Miranda Prescott, News Editor
The Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the motion for JSU President Don Killingsworth to seek out a new athletic conference outside of the Ohio Valley Conference.
While JSU will not make the official announcement until the next board meeting in April, the university, along with OVC school Eastern Kentucky and Central Arkansas, is reportedly considering joining the Atlantic Sun Conference. The league includes universities such as North Alabama (a longtime JSU rival, although it plays in the Big South Conference in football) and Kennesaw State.
Greg Seitz, JSU’s athletic director, said the primary reason for the move is the stain on the athletes from long travel for conference. He said the change will allow the athletic department to offset travel costs to other aspects of the JSU program.
Seitz said JSU teams now travel a combined 3,900 miles for OVC competition and are “the most southern member of that conference.” He said a potential new conference would cut that travel distance by nearly two thirds.
He said factors being considered when selecting a new conference would be the potential to create new rivalries as well as rekindling past ones. He said the university is seeking a conference that “fits our geographic footprint.”
JSU competes in NCAA Division I in all sports but football, where it’s part of the Football Championship Subdivision.
The university has been part of the OVC for 18 years. It won conference football championships in 2003, 2004 and from 2014 to 2018, and shared the 2011 title.
The Gamecocks’ baseball team claimed the 2005, 2008 and 2019 regular season and 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2019 tournament championships.
JSU’s women’s softball team won the 2005, 2008, 2009, 2016 and 2017 regular season crowns, took the 2014 Eastern Division championship in the regular season and won tournament championships in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016 through 2018.
Men’s basketball won the conference tournament in the 2016-17 season, clinching its first berth in the NCAA Tournament in the process.
The university hopes to begin play in a new conference as early as this fall.
This article originally appeared in The Gadsden Times, where News Editor Miranda Prescott is an intern reporter.