Despite several statements from university officials over the last few months claiming that Loyola was content in remaining in the Horizon League, The Phoenix has learned that Loyola is being considered for a place in the Missouri Valley Athletic Conference (MVC).
After numerous articles were published speculating that Loyola was in the mix of conference realignment, Loyola President Fr. Michael Garanzini, S.J., finally confirmed these speculations, saying in an email statement to The Phoenix, “Yes, we are being considered.”
Garanzini is still unsure about details, such as how likely it is Loyola will be selected to become a member. He also is not ready to throw his whole weight into campaigning to get into the league.
“We are simply telling the [Missouri Valley] Conference about our program and our goals,” Garanzini said, “It’s all pretty interesting. My philosophy is pretty simple: I don’t fall in love with property I don’t own and I don’t fall in love with conferences I’m not in.”
The MVC is searching for a new member to replace Omaha’s Creighton University, which will be departing this fall for the redesigned Big East Conference. Creighton and Wichita State were the MVC representatives in this year’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament, with Wichita State advancing to the Final Four. Other MVC teams include Bradley University, Drake University, Evansville University, Illinois State University, Indiana State University, Northern Iowa University, Missouri State University and Southern Illinois University.
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reported on March 31 that Loyola, University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and Valparaiso University in Indiana were members of the Horizon League who were being considered for Creighton’s spot in the league. He went on to say that MVC officials would be visiting these universities in the first few weeks of April.
No MVC representatives were available to comment.
While numerous national sports writers have reported and blogged that UIC would be replacing Creighton, Missouri State President Clif Smart tweeted on April 4: “Site visits to prospective valley schools went well. Despite reports on twitter, no decision made on new member. Still couple weeks off.”
As recently as mid-February, Garanzini stated that now was not quite the time for Loyola to consider departing the Horizon League. However, with Creighton leaving for the new Big East, a vacancy opened up for Loyola to take advantage of.
Joining the MVC would mark a huge change for Loyola. In addition to becoming a member of a more prestigious conference with a higher level of competition, Loyola would likely have to spend more money in order to compete at the next level. The university would, however, be granted a bigger chunk of media revenue, especially if teams in the MVC continue to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament like Wichita State did this year.
In order for schools to be part of the MVC in the 2013-2014 academic year, they must declare their intentions to join the league by July 1.
No other Loyola officials could be reached to comment on Loyola’s inclusion in these discussions.
by: Nick Amatangelo