|Missouri Valley Conference football|
|Members||7 (final), 29 (total)|
This is a page on the history of Missouri Valley Conference football. The Missouri Valley Conference sponsored football from 1907 through the 1985 school year. The conference voted to drop football as a sport on April 30, 1985. At the time the Conference was a mixture of NCAA division I-A programs (Tulsa and Wichita State) and NCAA division I-AA programs (Drake, Illinois State, Indiana State, Southern Illinois, and West Texas State).
The Missouri Valley Conference started sponsoring football in the fall of 1907. In 1951 Drake University and Bradley University left the Missouri Valley Conference as a result of the Johnny Bright incident, a racially motivated on-field attack against Drake's black star Johnny Bright by a white Oklahoma A&M player. Both schools returned to the MVC for non-football sports several years later (Bradley in 1955 and Drake in 1956), but Bradley never rejoined for football (dropping the sport in 1970), and Drake didn't rejoin in football until 1971. Washburn University competed in football from 1935 through 1940. Saint Louis University dropped football after the 1949 season.
By the late 1960s, rising costs for football meant that basketball could no longer help subsidize football programs. According to a 2017 story in The Wichita Eagle, "The MVC looked west to find football and alienated its basketball powers." The first schools brought in during this period were New Mexico State and West Texas State (now West Texas A&M), respectively joining in 1970 and 1971; the conference also established a tie-in with the now-defunct Pasadena Bowl.
The new additions almost immediately led to conflict between several established members and the conference office. Cincinnati, Louisville, and Memphis State (now Memphis) complained about travel costs, and Memphis State was bitterly opposed to a full round-robin conference schedule, wishing to play more games within its region. All three schools left the MVC within a four-year period in the 1970s—Cincinnati in 1971, Memphis State in 1973, and Louisville in 1975. At the time of Memphis State's departure, Bradley's then-athletic director publicly said, "We sort of pushed Memphis out. They didn’t want to play everybody in football and we said that they must." These were not the only departures from the conference during this period; non-football member Saint Louis left in 1974, wishing to compete with urban basketball-focused schools like itself, and North Texas State (now North Texas) went independent in 1975 due to a desire for more scheduling flexibility. The MVC attempted to reload by adding Southern Illinois (1974 for non-football sports, 1977 for football), Indiana State (1976), and Illinois State (1980 for non-football sports, 1981 for football). The two schools whose arrival led to this instability would themselves leave in the 1980s—New Mexico State left after the 1982 season, and West Texas State left after the conference's final football season of 1985.
On December 5, 2006 the Missouri Valley Conference released its All-Centennial team.
This membership timeline reflects only Missouri Valley Conference football, not the Missouri Valley Conference as a whole.
Champions by year
|1907||Iowa & Nebraska|
|1911||Iowa State & Nebraska|
|1912||Iowa State & Nebraska|
|1913||Missouri & Nebraska|
|1930||Drake & Oklahoma A&M|
|1935||Tulsa & Washington (MO)|
|1936||Creighton & Tulsa|
|1953||Detroit & Oklahoma A&M|
|1955||Detroit & Wichita State|
|1958||North Texas State|
|1959||Houston & North Texas State|
|1963||Cincinnati & Wichita State|
|1966||North Texas State & Tulsa|
|1967||North Texas State|
|1971||North Texas State & Memphis State|
|1972||Drake, Louisville, & West Texas State|
|1973||North Texas State & Tulsa|
|1976||New Mexico State & Tulsa|
|1977||West Texas State|
|1978||New Mexico State|
|1979||West Texas State|
|1981||Drake & Tulsa|
Championships by school
|North Texas State||1957–1974||6||1973||1971|
|New Mexico State||1970–1982||2||1978||1978|
|West Texas State||1971–1985||3||1979||1979|
- "Missouri Valley to drop football as league sport". Tulsa, Oklahoma: Gainesville Sun. May 1, 1985. p. 5D. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "DRAKE VOTES TO DROP FROM CONFERENCE". Des Moines, Iowa: The Miami Daily News. November 28, 1951. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- "Drake Quits Missouri Valley Over Injury to Johnny Bright". Des Moines, Iowa: The Southeast Missourian. November 28, 1951. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "Drake Bulldogs 2008 football media guide" (PDF). Drake University. 2008. p. 41. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "2008 Washburn University football media guide" (PDF). Washburn University. 2008. p. 154. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "ST. LOUIS DROPS COLLEGE FOOTBALL". St. Louis, Missouri: Star-News. December 15, 1949. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "ST. LOUIS QUITS COLLEGE FOOTBALL". St. Louis, Missouri: Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 14, 1949. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- Suellentrop, Paul (April 1, 2017). "WSU notes: Football's power started the MVC on this path in the early 1970s". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
- "2008 New Mexico State Aggies football media guide" (PDF). New Mexico State University. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "West Texas A&M Buffaloes School History". Sports-Reference.com College Football. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
- Missouri Valley Conference 75 1981 Football/Anniversary Issue. Missouri Valley Conference. p. 52.
- "Missouri Valley Conference Announces Football All-Centennial Team" (PDF). St. Louis, Missouri: Missouri Valley Conference. December 5, 2006. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- "BIG COLLEGES MAY GIVE UP FOOTBALL THIS YEAR". Chicago, Illinois: The Lewiston Daily Sun. September 13, 1918. pp. Page 6. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Valley Conference Faces Familiar Problem Again". Kansas City, Missouri: St. Joseph Gazette. February 12, 1960. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- "Missouri Valley Conference Getting Too Far-Flunt; Louisville Joins New League". Louisville, Kentucky: The Lewiston Daily Sun. June 14, 1975. pp. Page 18. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Memphis St. Joins Valley Conference". Wichita, Kansas: The Pittsburgh Press. May 22, 1966. pp. Page 4, Section 4. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "New Mexico State plans to leave Missouri Valley". Tulsa, Oklahoma: Lawrence Journal-World. March 22, 1983. pp. Page 11. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Indiana State Admitted To Missouri Valley Conference". Tulsa, Oklahoma: Herald-Journal. March 11, 1976. Retrieved 21 July 2012.