Valparaiso University will leave the Horizon League Conference and officially join the Missouri Valley Conference July 1, 2017.
Over the past several weeks, members of the MVC visited with several universities - including UW-Milwaukee - to talk about the idea of relocating. UW-Milwaukee, Murray State, and Nebraska-Omaha were ultimately passed over for Valparaiso...at least for now.
Inviting Valparaiso reinforces the MVC as a ten-member conference, but multiple reports suggest the conference would prefer to be a twelve-member conference before it's all said-and-done. Future expansion could take place over the next couple of years.
Has UW-Milwaukee been issued an invitation to join, they no-doubt would have accepted the invite. UW-Milwaukee Athletic Director, Amanda Braun tells me, "it is a tribute to our student-athletes, coaches and staff that we were seriously considered as a finalist in this process. Our focus has always been on winning championships, graduating student-athletes and representing the University in all that we do. We remain committed to that and are excited about the future."
With Valparaiso replacing Wichita State, there now exists an opening in the Horizon League. In order to remain a ten-member conference, and have balance in tournament play, the Horizon League must fill the gap. In 2015, the Horizon League replaced Butler (now a member of the Big East) with Northern Kentucky.
If the Horizon chooses to stay regional in their approach, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), Nebraska-Omaha, and IUPUI could all fit the bill. UMKC would likely appreciate the opportunity to leave the WAC and cut down on the robust travel budget associated with having to compete against schools in Utah, Washington and California. If the Horizon League wishes to expand it's geographic footprint, Robert Morris (located in Pittsburgh) could be in-play.