Valparaiso to join Missouri Valley Conference

Movin’ on up?    
   Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Norlander of CBS reports that the Valley does not now intend to expand further, with the obvious implication that Valparaiso is just the replacement for Wichita State, who will depart for the American Athletic Conference, also on July 1.

The league Tuesday that its nine members had voted unanimously to extend an invite to the Crusaders, who now play in the Horizon League, effective on July 1.

Valparaiso on Tuesday was invited to join the Missouri Valley Conference, and after negotiations are finalized, it's expected to make the leap over the summer. The Shockers left the MVC for the American Athletic Conference earlier this year and MVC officials were looking to replace them with one or more schools. They've played eight times in the Horizon League regular season, with each team winning four times.

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

Universities that could be targets might include Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Omaha from the Summit League; and Belmont, Murray State and SIU Edwardsville from the Ohio Valley Conference.

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.

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

Adding Valparaiso suggests the league valued finding a competitive basketball program more than it did during its search to replace Creighton in 2013.

The upcoming season provides Racer fans with some incredible opportunities to follow their team, impact the success of the conference, and again prove why Murray State is one of the finest mid-major programs in the country.

Homer Drew then returned to the sideline in 2003-04 and coached until he was succeeded by his other son in 2011-12. The Crusaders have made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, including nine since 1996, and four NIT appearances.

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

Besides basketball considerations, the MVC offers the same sports as the Horizon League except for men's swimming.

Lotich led Valpo to its sixth 20-win season in the last seven seasons.

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