Missouri Valley Conference invites Valpo to join the league

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Murray State, Omaha, and others were also rumored contenders for an MVC invite before the league chose to expand only by one.

"I am in no way disappointed by the news or have any regrets being involved in the process", Ward said in a statement.

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.

When the Wichita State Shockers accepted an invitation to join the AAC, there was a mid-major sized gap to fill in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Late Tuesday morning, MVC officials announced that a membership invitation had been extended to Valparaiso University, effective July 1, 2017.

The MVC is the second-oldest continually active conference in college athletics (only the Big Ten has existed longer). The move goes into effect July 1, and the conference will have no further comment pending negotiation of the terms. "Our goals and objectives to graduate our student-athletes, win championships, promote this great university and be a player on the national scene have not changed and were never reliant on the outcome today".

The expansion committee will continue to meet for the next 9 months to evaluate further expansion opportunities.

Much like in 2013 when the Valley replaced the similarly impactful loss of Creighton, the league has found a weaker-yet-fitting replacement for a loss of one of its basketball powers. It will join Loyola, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Indiana State, Missouri State and Northern Iowa in the 10-team league.

The Crusaders have 19 varsity sports. The Valley is still reaping the financial benefits of WSU's 2013 Final Four finish, and 2015 Sweet 16 finish. Haley tweeted that a Crusaders spokesman said the school's football team will remain in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. Valparaiso has been to the NCAA tourney nine times. The Crusaders have won or shared the Horizon League regular season title in five of the last six seasons.

Under former coach Homer Drew, the Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament seven times between 1996 and 2004. The Crusaders lost in the National Invitation Tournament's first round to IL as Peters sat out with a knee injury.

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