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Missouri Valley Conference invites Valpo to join the league

09 May 2017

Missouri State University president Clif Smart said the "expansion committee will continue to meet for the next nine months to evaluate further expansion opportunities" after the Valpo announcement. Valparaiso is already located within the league's footprint, providing a strong geographic fit in addition to a good match on-court with a league that prioritizes basketball. "If they do depart, we wish them all the best".

Their men's basketball program is well known for Bryce Drew's buzzer-beating shot to upset MS and put the team in the Sweet 16 of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Loyola was tabbed in 2013 after Creighton left for the Big East Conference.

Valparaiso officials have remained silent during a process that began back on April. 7 when Wichita State announced it was leaving the Valley for the American Athletic Conference. Oakland followed suit in 2013.

The Crusaders gained national acclaim in 1998 when they reached the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen.

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Maybe it will be Northern Iowa, which has won four NCAA tournament games since 2010. Drew was Valpo's coach from 2011-16, before leaving a year ago for Vanderbilt.

Valparaiso doesn't come close to matching Wichita State's recent history of 10 NCAA tournament wins in the past five seasons, but the Crusaders have the most basketball pedigree of the four universities under consideration.

The Horizon League has been hoping to get into multiple-bid territory with the NCAA Tournament. But Valparaiso's departure - which would cost the school a Horizon League buyout in the neighborhood of $500,000 - sets that goal back, substantially, while leaving the Horizon League with nine member institutions.

That said, the void probably wouldn't be there for long.

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We're founding members of a league that we have represented proudly since 1948.

The Horizon League didn't respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Whichever direction the Horizon League goes, it's likely to prioritize men's basketball over staying in its five-state, Midwest footprint.

The Missouri Valley Conference is adding some local flavor. Valley officials also remained silent as the conference reportedly took site visits to Valparaiso, Murray State, Milwaukee and Omaha late last month.

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Missouri Valley Conference invites Valpo to join the league