The Missouri Valley Conference announced Tuesday it has extended an invitation to Valparaiso University, one of Wright State’s top rivals in the Horizon League.
In a statement posted to the MVC Twitter account, the conference said the invitation is for Valpo to become a member on July 1, and added “there will be no further comment, pending the negotiation of terms.”
A spokesperson for Valparaiso declined comment, and HL commissioner Jon LeCrone said the league is waiting to hear from school officials.
“We have not been advised by Valpo that they intend to withdraw,” LeCrone said. “So the process is not yet completed.”
The Missouri Valley has a vacancy after Wichita State moved to the American Athletic Conference. If the MVC taps Valpo, it will be the second time in four years the conference has poached the Horizon League after accepting Loyola (Ill.) in 2013 after Creighton moved to the Big East.
Valpo, which has been a member of the Horizon League since 2007, also was a candidate to replace Creighton.
LeCrone, a Vandalia native, said if Valpo leaves, the timing would not be ideal, but the Horizon League is prepared to deal with it.
“This is relatively typical of the Division I environment at this point,” he said. “There is membership movement. It’s been pretty regular. And there’s really not anything that happens any more that takes people by surprise. We have plans in place. We have proactive plans. We have transitional plans.
“If Valpo was, indeed, going to accept the Missouri Valley’s invitation, then we would have to re-do our schedules for next year in all of our sports,” LeCrone added. “It’s not like we haven’t done that before. It’s do-able. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s difficult. But we’ve done that before and would be able to do that again.”
LeCrone declined to comment on any potential fines or penalties that would be levied against Valpo for leaving on such short notice, and he said it is difficult to say whether the HL would be able to find a replacement in time for the 2017-18 season.
“We don’t control the timeline 100 percent ourselves,” he said. “If a member is transitioning in, then they certainly have a process they have to go through and we have to be cognizant of that. If the member is transitioning out, they have to make an institutional decision based on their needs, so we don’t control the whole transition piece of timing.
“We have an active and fluid possible candidate list because we get frequent calls about schools who might want to investigate coming to our league,” he added. “In today’s day and age, things move a lot quicker than they used to. So at this point I wouldn’t rule out anything because we’ve been working on expansion for a long time. Our No. 1 goal is to do everything in our power to help our current members improve and flourish.”