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OVC concludes Spring meetings in Nashville


BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference concluded its annual Conference Spring Meetings last Friday in Nashville. The event ran May 27-30.

The week concluded with the League's annual Honors Brunch, which honored the OVC Male and Female Athletes of the Year (Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo and UT Martin's Heather Butler), the Steve Hamilton Sportsmanship Award winner (Belmont's J.J. Mann) and inducted former Tennessee Tech President Dr. Bob Bell and former Murray State coach/administrator Margaret Simmons into the Conference's Hall of Fame.

Items of business highlighted in the meetings included a guiding philosophy on future membership, the announcement of a "Rainy Day Fund" for the Basketball Enrichment Plan, a format change for the OVC Women's Basketball Championship, a plan to review targeting calls at halftime of league football games, the establishment of an "Award of Excellence" for outstanding OVC Digital Network productions, a modification of league policy to require member institutions to have the ability to web stream in order to host championship events and the approval of a contract extension for Commissioner Beth DeBauche.

It was determined as a guiding membership philosophy that the Ohio Valley Conference would not consider any institution for membership that is currently not a member of Division I.

The League announced the establishment of a "Rainy Day Fund" in conjunction with the Basketball Enrichment Plan. That plan, established three years ago, distributes revenue earned through victories in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship back to schools for use to enhance the sport of men's basketball and was put in place to help continue to grow the sport of men's basketball due to unprecedented recent success in the sport. The Rainy Day Fund will help support the plan in years when there are no NCAA victories (the OVC has won at least one NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament game in four of the last six seasons). The OVC Board of Presidents will set aside money for the Rainy Day Fund beginning with the upcoming fiscal year (2014-15).

A format change for the OVC Women's Basketball Tournament was approved beginning with the 2015 Championship. The bracket will now be seeded in a traditional 1-8 format (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc. playing in the first round) rather than the current double-bye format which has been in place since 2011. More specific details on the 2015 Men's and Women's Championship will be announced soon.

In light of the NCAA's recently released process for reviewing targeting plays when instant replay is not available, it was agreed upon that the Conference will establish a process for reviewing targeting calls at halftime of league football games beginning this season (2014).

The 2013-14 school year marked the second year of the OVC Digital Network, the League's rebranded web streaming platform that produces high-definition webcasts that are available at no cost on any computer, tablet or smart phone. After streaming 600-plus events with over 250,000 viewers in year one, year two saw increases to over 800 events with 350,000-plus viewers. Included in those numbers were more University-based ancillary events including graduations, presidential search interviews and diversity councils.

With the continued success of the OVC Digital Network, the league announced the establishment of an "Award of Excellence" program to acknowledge the outstanding productions from each of the league's member institutions. The league also modified its policy to now require that member institutions must have the ability to web stream from a venue in order to host an OVC Championship effective with the 2015-16 school year.

The OVC Board of Presidents also approved an extension to Commissioner DeBauche's contract which is now a five-year rolling contract that runs through the 2018-19 academic year (it had previously been a four-year contract). DeBauche was named the seventh full-time OVC Commissioner on July 29, 2009.

OVC leadership also started the process of updating the Conference's strategic plan with consultant Julie Roe Lach.

It was also announced that next year's Chair of the Board of Presidents will be Dr. Michael T. Benson of Eastern Kentucky University while the Chair of Board of Directors of Athletics for 2014-15 will be EKU's Mark Sandy.

In addition Morehead State President Dr. Wayne Andrews and Jacksonville State President Dr. William Meehan were named to the OVC's Strategic Planning Subcommittee.