The Horizon League Board of Directors on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis as a league member.
IUPUI replaces Valparaiso, which left to join the Missouri Valley Conference last month. The Jaguars officially will join the Horizon League on July 1, and will begin competing in the 2017-18 academic year.
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“We are excited to welcome IUPUI to the Horizon League family,” Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone said in a statement. “The Jaguars bring us tremendous competitive potential, particularly in men’s basketball, along with an engaged and energized city. Their addition solidifies our broad community partnerships in Indianapolis and is the right school at the right time.”
IUPUI comes to the Horizon League after spending 10 seasons in the Summit League, the same conference Wright State basketball coach Scott Nagy coached in before taking over with the Raiders in April 2016.
The Jaguars have not had a winning season since going 19-14 in 2010-11, but the team has improved its win total in each of the last three seasons since Jason Gardner took over as head coach.
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“I know our department and basketball program are excited to make the move to the Horizon League,” Gardner said. “The Summit League has provided us fantastic competition since long before I was the head coach, but we’re excited about what the future holds. I had the opportunity to coach in the Horizon League and understand just how strong the league is from top to bottom. We’re going to work hard to improve every single day to be competitive with our new league rivals.”
In addition to men’s basketball, IUPUI competes in 17 of the other 18 Horizon League sports, with baseball being the lone exception.
“We are excited about engaging with the other Horizon League member institutions to enhance the overall competitiveness of the league,” said IUPUI athletic director Dr. Roderick Perry, who worked at Wright State from 2001-07, rising from academic advisor to associate athletic director after earning his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Dayton.
“As an institution and athletics department, our mission, vision, and core values align closely with the Horizon League,” Perry added. “This is an important step forward in the life of our athletics department.”
IUPUI boasts a handful of strong women’s programs, with the basketball team finishing runner up in last year’s Summit League tournament, falling in overtime to top seed Western Illinois. The Jaguars have won at least 20 games in back-to-back seasons and four of five.
The softball team won its first regular-season title in 2017 but lost in the finals of the tournament to North Dakota State. And the swimming team also finished second at the league meet.
Another element that made IUPUI attractive to the HL Board of Directors were the school’s facilities, which include the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, the basketball venue which recently underwent $53 million in renovations, and the IU Natatorium, which played host to the 2017 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships and has been the site of the U.S. Olympic Trials and USA Swimming and Diving Championships in the past.
“We are delighted with the addition of IUPUI to the family of Horizon League institutions,” said George W. Hynd, president of Oakland University and chairman of the Horizon League Board of Directors. “It is clear that the vision, values and mission of IUPUI are clearly aligned with those that we champion in the Horizon League.”