MVC invites Valparaiso to join the league, effective July 1

The conference is replacing Wichita State, which is leaving to join the American Athletic Conference on July 1.

The Missouri Valley Conference issued a statement Tuesday morning saying "The Missouri Valley Conference Presidents Council has unanimously voted to extend a membership invitation to Valparaiso University, effective July 1, 2017". Clif Smart, President of Missouri State University, said the expansion committee will continue to meet for the next nine months to evaluate further expansion opportunities. Wichita State men's basketball has been the flagship team in that conference for years, so it is a massive loss. 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.

Valparaiso spokeswoman Nicole Niemi said the school would not comment on the invitation.

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. They stayed in the remained Summit League through 2006-07, then jumped to the Horizon League.

It was the third straight NCAA appearance for a school that received seven tourney bids during that nine-year stretch. The Valley has been in a state of transition in the past half decade, after losing power member Creighton to the Big East in 2013.

Drew's sons, Scott and Bryce, have also coached Valparaiso before Matt Lottich took the job a year ago. It represented the Horizon League in the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2015.

While basketball is the highest profile program in the athletic department, it's certainly not the only successful team.

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.

For not providing at least two years notice to the Horizon League, Valparaiso would be subject to a reported $500,000 exit fee and forfeiture of its share of NCAA and conference revenues from the last year, including from the NCAA tournament.

  • Audrey Hill