Source says Horizon League has invited IUPUI as 10th member

The Horizon League has extended an invitation to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, a league source confirmed to the Dayton Daily News.

HL commissioner Jon LeCrone declined to name the school but confirmed the board of directors voted last Friday to extend an invitation to a single member school and that he expects that invitation to be accepted shortly.

“We most likely will be 10 members for this coming year, 17-18,” LeCrone said. “It’s not been finely executed, but that is way more likely than not likely.”

The HL is looking to replace Valparaiso, which departed for the Missouri Valley Conference last month.

And while IUPUI doesn’t have the basketball clout LeCrone said would be a focus in its plan to not only replace Valpo, but expand to 12 or 14 members — having not had a winning season since 2010-11 while making just once career NCAA tournament appearance in 2003 — the school is an ideal geographic fit.

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In addition to sitting 1.5 miles from the league office in downtown Indianapolis, IUPUI would be a natural replacement for Valpo as the travel partner for Illinois-Chicago.

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LeCrone said he spoke with league athletic directors Friday to look at scheduling models for both a nine-team and 10-team league. Because IUPUI does not have varsity baseball, a nine-team schedule would be in play for that sport while a 10-team slate would be used in the others.

LeCrone added that if any member schools have already signed nonleague deals to replace the two games lost by Valparaiso’s depature, the league will provide financial assistance to help break those contracts should IUPUI be accepted, as expected, in time for the 2017-18 season.

“The way our process works, these memberships decisions in terms of coming into our league, are really driven by the candidate more than they’re driven by the league,” LeCrone said. “We have not yet completed that process, but it’s underway.”

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Shortly after Valparaiso announced its move to the MVC, LeCrone said the HL has been in numerous conversations over the last two years about expansion by adding schools that would grow the league’s footprint to the east, south, southeast, southwest and west.

And LeCrone said he expects those efforts to ramp up shortly.

“Our board, with good advice from our ADs, really drives membership, and I think there’s a desire among both the ADs and this particular board that we would grow larger than 10,” he said. “After we see what happens in the next few weeks with our 10th, I certainly think therer would be some energy around going to 12.”

Wright State and IUPUI have some shared history with the men’s basketball teams playing 11 times, nine of which resulted in WSU wins. And Raiders coached Scott Nagy is familiar with IUPUI after facing the Jaguars at least twice a year for his final nine seasons at South Dakota State when both schools were members of the Summit League.

Also, IUPUI athletic director Dr. Roderick Perry 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.

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