HCU Soccer Set to Kick Off in Ohio Valley Conference

The News Magazine of HCU

Houston Christian University (HCU) accepted an invitation to join the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) as a men’s soccer affiliate member, beginning play in the Fall of 2023.

The Ohio Valley is the 24th Division-I conference to sponsor men’s soccer, and will receive an automatic qualifier to the National Collegiate Athletics Association Championship tournament.

An affiliate member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for the past 10 years, HCU is joined by fellow Southland Conference member and former WAC affiliate member Incarnate Word in moving to the OVC.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to be an affiliate member of the OVC! We look forward to competing in this newly-formed conference,” said HCU Head Coach Ryan Pratt.

HCU is one of just four Division-I men’s soccer programs in the state of Texas (University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), Southern Methodist University and UT Rio Grande Valley, the others), thus making conference affiliation a very fluid situation over the years. The Southland Conference does not sponsor men’s soccer.

The move to the OVC marks the sixth different affiliation for the program since it was reinstated in 2006 after a hiatus of 15 seasons. The Huskies were a member of the Trans America Athletic Conference from 1979-90.

A member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Red River Athletic Conference in that opening 2006 campaign, the Huskies then transitioned back to the Division 1 ranks in 2007.

After one year as an independent, the Huskies spent time in the Atlantic Soccer Conference from 2008-11 and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in 2012, before joining the WAC in 2013.

“It’s an exciting day for the HCU men’s soccer program with the move to the Ohio Valley Conference as an affiliate member,” stated Athletic Director Steve Moniaci. “We certainly want to thank the WAC for a great 10 years of partnership as we make this shift to what we believe is a terrific opportunity with the OVC.”

Four OVC institutions currently field men’s soccer teams: Eastern Illinois, Lindenwood, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Southern Indiana. In addition to HCU and UIW, Chicago State and Liberty also accepted invitations to join the OVC as affiliate members for the 2023 season, bringing the total number of schools in the league to eight in its inaugural run.

The league will grow to nine in 2024 when Western Illinois joins the OVC as a full member across all sports.