WIU Soccer To Play In Summit League Until Fall 2024


MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University has announced that its men’s soccer program will remain in the Summit League for the fall of 2023, rather than move to the Ohio Valley Conference on July 1st.

With conference schedules set and nonconference slates nearly finalized, keeping the men’s program in the Summit League one final season made sense for all parties.

“As with football remaining in the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the 2023 season before moving to the Ohio Valley Conference, men’s soccer will follow a similar transition,” Paul A. Bubb, Director of Athletics for the Leathernecks said. “This transition was made for the benefit of all parties, allowing previously established schedules to remain in place for the fall of 2023, providing the least amount of disruption to schedules previously set by both conferences.”

Western Illinois opens the regular season at Northern Illinois on August 24. The Leathernecks first home match is September 16 against Eastern Illinois.

“The transition for men’s soccer to the OVC will be much smoother in terms of scheduling for both fall of 2023 and 2024,” Western Illinois men’s soccer coach Eric Johnson said. “Having OVC soccer programs on our schedule in early September for 2023 would have created a huge gap in games that we need in order to prepare the team for league play. We had EIU, SIUE and Lindenwood scheduled as non-conference matches and it would have made it difficult for all four teams to find games to replace those games. One last opportunity to compete in the Summit League is a challenge our players relish and we are excited for the opportunity. The delay will allow us to properly schedule games in preparation to fully compete in the OVC in 2024.”

Western Illinois University made the announcement on May 12 to move from the Summit League to the Ohio Valley Conference. The Leathernecks were a charter member of the Summit League, then known as the Mid Continent Conference, and the lone member of the league every year since its inception in 1982.

“To assist in easing some of the challenges brought on by the departure of Western Illinois, the Summit League and men’s soccer membership are appreciative of the cooperation shown by all parties to have their program compete in our League for the fall of 2023,” Summit League commissioner Josh Fenton said.

The Leatherneck men’s soccer program has captured nine Summit League regular season titles and made the NCAA Tournament six times.

“While the OVC is excited to have Western Illinois teams compete for conference championships in all its sports, permitting WIU’s men’s soccer team to play in the Summit League for the 2023-24 academic year provides a satisfactory approach for all parties concerned,” Ohio Valley Commissioner Beth DeBauche said. “We appreciate everyone’s willingness to work together to assist the sport of men’s soccer. We will start planning for the Leathernecks’ men’s soccer program to join the OVC the following academic year.”

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