The Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) Presidents Council voted to extend an offer of membership to Murray State University Friday, establishing the Racers Football program as the 12th member of the nation’s preeminent FCS conference.
“The addition of Murray State expands the MVFC footprint and sets up the league for new rivalries,” said David Harris, UNI director of athletics. “The MVFC is the strongest conference in the FCS subdivision and we are pleased that Murray State wants to commit their program to the high level of competition that exists within our league. The Panthers are excited to welcome the Racers to the MVFC and look forward to working with them for years to come.”
Murray State Athletics will host MVFC Commissioner Patty Viverito at a public announcement and media opportunity 3 p.m. CST Friday, April 8 in the Hall of Benefactors, within Heritage Hall. The conference also will have Zoom call availability for Commissioner Viverito 3 p.m. (CST) Monday, April 4, which will be managed by Mike Kern (email@example.com) of the MVFC.
“With Murray State becoming the 12th Missouri Valley Football Conference member, we have stabilized and strengthened FCS football in the Midwest and cemented the MVFC’s position as the premier FCS football conference in the nation,” said Viverito. “This course of action makes good sense for our conference, our member institutions, our fans and most importantly our student-athletes. With this move, we will turn long-standing traditional games with neighboring schools into conference rivalries and open the way for equally satisfying new rivalries throughout the league.”
“The goal of the Missouri Valley Football Conference has been to position our membership profile as the best in the FCS,” stated Indiana State President Deborah J. Curtis, chair of the MVFC Presidents Council. “We are thrilled to have Murray State University joining our great historic conference. Murray State’s mission and goals fit very much in line with what we are all aiming to achieve.”
“As we enter a new era of Racer Athletics and begin play in the Missouri Valley Conference, I am extremely proud that we will be playing football in the Missouri Valley Football Conference,” said Murray State University President Bob Jackson. “This is the best FCS Conference in the country and it will benefit our student-athletes, our program and the university as a whole as we move forward. I want to thank Commissioner Patty Viverito and the MVFC Presidents Council for this invitation and vote of support.”
“We are appreciative, grateful and blessed to align our football program within the best competitive environment in the country, the Missouri Valley Football Conference,” said Director of Athletics Kevin Saal. “The journey ahead will constitute a great challenge, however, through the commitment and support of Murray State University, President Jackson and the Board of Regents, our athletics department, coaches, student-athletes, community, donors, and season-ticket holders, we will meet these challenges with great energy and enthusiasm. Thank you to the MVFC Presidents Council for this honor and opportunity. Prospective student-athletes who desire to align themselves with a football program committed to growth within the best competitive environment in the country need look no further than Murray State University.”
“On behalf of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, we wish to express sincere appreciation and thanks to the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Murray State University, for this tremendous opportunity,” said Head Football Coach Dean Hood. “We’ve said from the outset, we are committed to building a firm foundation on which our football program – and the young men who develop within it – can grow. With great respect, humble hearts and an unwavering sense of urgency, we look forward to the journey ahead.”
The pinnacle of FCS excellence for nearly 40 years, the league began in 1985 as the Gateway Football Conference, before becoming the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2008. With the additions of North Dakota State and South Dakota State in 2008, South Dakota in 2012 and most recently, North Dakota in 2020, the MVFC has cemented itself as the strongest and most successful FCS league in the country.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference is the benchmark for FCS football, producing 11 national champions and five additional national runners-up in the league’s history. Most recently, MVFC teams have produced nine of the last 11 national champions and have placed at least one team in the championship game in an FCS-record 11-straight seasons (every year since 2011).
The MVFC has averaged 4.6 tournament bids per season since 2014, including a league-record six bids (AQ and five at-large bids) this past season. The league’s 29 at-large bids during that span represent 27.8 percent of all available at-large bids during that time. Not only do MVFC teams qualify for the FCS playoffs, they also win, amassing a 78-35 record in the playoffs since 2011, yielding a winning percentage of 69.0. Since 2011, MVFC teams have won 78 tournament games and own nine national titles. The next-best league is the CAA with 45 total wins in that span. Since 2011, the only other leagues to earn a national title are the CAA and Southland, with one apiece.
Murray State football will play its 98th season in the fall of 2022 and its 50th in historic Roy Stewart Stadium. The Racers own an all-time record of 498-454-36 for a winning percentage of 52.2 and are 166-98-2 all-time at Stewart Stadium. In addition, the Racers have won eight Ohio Valley Conference championships and have made six trips to the FCS playoffs. Individually, Murray State has produced 14 OVC Players of the Year, 45 All-Americans and 20 NFL Draft picks.
Murray State will play its first season in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the fall of 2023. The Racers will play the 2022 season in the Ohio Valley Conference, their 75th and final season in the league.