Horizon League expansion rumors have been swirling since Butler left last spring, but for now the conference appears be shrinking.
Loyola has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference, the Chicago Tribune reported late Saturday night. An official announcement is expected this week. Loyola will become a member of the MVC on July 1, replacing Big East-bound Creighton.
Loyola was an original member of the Horizon League, joining in 1979 when it was known as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. Of the original seven teams, only Detroit will remain when Loyola leaves.
Wright State Athletic Director Bob Grant said he had not heard officially from the Horizon League that Loyola is leaving, but he heard the news reports Saturday.
“The good news is they’re not a baseball-playing school,” Grant said Sunday. “I hate to break it down like that. The bad news is we’re down a team, which is probably not good. I’m still hopeful (Horizon League Commissioner) Jon (LeCrone) has his ducks lined up and we’ll hear some good news in the coming days. I’m as anxious as everyone.”
The Green Bay Press Gazette reported earlier this month that Oakland University would join the Horizon League.
There were also reports that the MVC was looking at Valparaiso and Illinois-Chicago. The loss of either school would have been a big blow to Wright State and the other baseball programs in the conference because the league needs at least six teams if it’s going to keep receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, and it has five with UIC, Valparaiso, Wright State, Youngstown State and Milwaukee.
“I think the Missouri Valley was all along going to take one school,” Grant said. “I think they’re very comfortable at 10. If you believe that, you have to assume UIC and Valparaiso are still with us.”