RICHMOND, Ky. — One of the worst-kept secrets in the Football Championship Subdivision is official.
Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State of the Ohio Valley Conference are leaving for the Atlantic Sun Conference and will be part of a new FCS league, according to a Kentucky radio station.
They become the latest programs to leave their current league for the A-Sun. Central Arkansas announced last week it was leaving the Southland Conference for the A-Sun.
It was long suspected Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State were bolting the Ohio Valley, but nothing was official.
It still isn't, technically.
It appears someone in Eastern Kentucky's athletic department prematurely posted a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website that included information that EKU, Jacksonville State and Central Arkansas were joining the A-Sun. The page was captured and posted on the Kentucky Sports Radio website along with an accompanying article.
It indicated the three schools will join the A-Sun on July 1, 2021.
The addition of EKU and Jacksonville State gives the A-Sun five football schools as it launches into becoming a new FCS league. They will join Central Arkansas, Kennesaw State and North Alabama.
As Central Arkansas athletic director Brad Teague said last week, the conference hopes to add one more football school to make it eligible for an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. While two other football-playing schools — FCS non-scholarship Stetson of the Pioneer Football League and Football Bowl Subdivision independent Liberty — will be members of the Atlantic Sun for others sports, they will not join the new football league.
"The primary focus of our next expansion phase will be to move to six (6) football members that play scholarship FCS football," the FAQ page reads.
As with other recent conference realignment, the A-Sun move benefits basketball and other sports by allowing the league to split into two divisions. That will allow more bus travel and cut down on costs.
The full Atlantic Sun Conference will look like this after July 1 (schools that make up the A-Sun football league have an asterisk):
University of Central Arkansas*
Eastern Kentucky University*
Florida Gulf Coast University
Jacksonville State University*
Kennesaw State University*
University of North Alabama*
University of North Florida
The departure of Jacksonville State and Eastern Kentucky leaves the Ohio Valley football conference with seven teams: Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, UT Martin, Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay.
Jacksonville State, located in Alabama, advanced to the FCS title game after the 2015 season, losing to North Dakota State in Frisco, Texas.