UIC tells Horizon League it’s leaving for MVC

Illinois-Chicago's Jamie Ahale shoots a 3-pointer against Dayton on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

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Illinois-Chicago's Jamie Ahale shoots a 3-pointer against Dayton on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Conference shuffling continues as MVC finds an Illinois replacement for Loyola

The Horizon League will lose a member for the first time since Valparaiso left for the Missouri Valley Conference in 2017, and the school leaving, Illinois-Chicago, also is heading to the MVC.

“UIC informed the Horizon League that it will be leaving the conference as a full member, effective June 30, 2022,” Horizon League Commissioner Julie Roe Lach said in a statement Wednesday. “Anchored by our values of integrity, respect and student-athlete well-being, and led by our Board of Directors, we will continue to move forward with our membership strategies focused on member alignment and opportunity. Our strategic goals of national excellence in basketball and providing superior co-curricular experiences for our student-athletes remain central to our League.”

The Horizon League replaced Valparaiso with IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) in 2017 and added Purdue Fort Wayne and Robert Morris in 2020 to get to 12 teams.

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Wright State owns two victories in men’s basketball over Illinois-Chicago (7-10, 3-5) this season and has won five straight games in the series.

The Flames joined the Horizon League in the 2001-02 season after seven seasons in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. UIC won the Horizon League tournament in 2002 and 2004 but has had only six winning seasons in the last 17 years. Its best regular-season finish in recent years came in 2017-18 when it placed third with a 12-6 league mark.

UIC will join Belmont and Murray State as new MVC members in the 2022-23 season. There will be three other Illinois schools in the conference: Bradley; Illinois State; and Southern Illinois. The MVC is losing another Illinois school, Loyola Chicago, to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The MVC is the nation’s 11th-ranked conference this season, according to KenPom.com, while the Horizon League ranks 24th.

“As the University of Illinois Chicago continues to thrive on the local, national, and global stage, joining the Missouri Valley Conference is an honor for the Flames,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said in a press release. “The Valley is a conference that is not only rich in tradition with a storied history of success, but it aligns UIC with other like-minded institutions that share in our vision for the future of higher education and athletics. This is a tremendous step in the evolution of our athletics programs, and one that we are thrilled to embrace moving forward as we provide opportunities for our student-athletes to not only compete, but to succeed at the highest levels.”

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