CHICAGO, IL. – Loyola University Chicago has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference, as announced during a press conference held on Friday, April 19. This membership will take effect July 1, 2013, and will include all teams with the exception of the men’s volleyball program, which belongs to the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA).
“I am pleased to announce that Loyola University Chicago will be joining the Missouri Valley Conference,” President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J. stated. “The MVC has a great reputation and a strong competitive profile both in athletics and academics. I believe this partnership with the Missouri Valley Conference will enhance our national visibility and have a positive impact on the experience of our student-athletes.”
The Missouri Valley Conference is the nation’s second oldest NCAA Division I athletics conference, preceded only by the Big Ten Conference. Founded in 1907, the conference has included 32 members in 106 years, with Loyola being the first league member from the city of Chicago.
“We had some really good options but I think we chose the university that was the right fit,” MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin stated. “Our brand will raise the profile of this institution, and the fact that we’re now in the city of Chicago will do wonders for our conference.”
Both Loyola and the Missouri Valley Conference boast prolific men’s basketball histories. The University recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 men’s basketball team, which won the NCAA championship, while Elgin further stated during the conference, “We are very much a basketball centric league, don’t make any mistake about that.”
Loyola also made basketball headlines last week, with the hiring of legendary women’s basketball player Sheryl Swoopes as the new women’s basketball head coach. The hiring of Swoopes is only one of the many recent investments Loyola has made in their athletic program.
“Loyola has spent over 300 million dollars to improve the facilities of this campus over the last six years. We first started by focusing on academics. Then we moved appropriately to the student life realm. And since we’ve invested in athletics, because we know this is an important part of the program.”
The Ramblers will be ending a 34 year affiliation with the Horizon League, a conference established in 1979 in which Loyola was the only remaining charter member. This value of continuity played a large part in the Missouri Valley Conference’s selection of the university.
“We are proud of our history and tradition. We were founded three years after the founding of the NCAA. We take pride in the stability and continuity of the league,” stated Elgin. “Loyola has been in one conference in their entire existence, and that has meant a lot to us.”
“I think we bring something to the league as well,” said Garanzini. “We live in a great city. The Chicago market is known for its loyalty. While it’s a tough market, because there’s so much competition for peoples' time and attention, we think we bring that Chicago market with us. We are looking forward to staying in a league that is surrounded by great teams and has great things in its future.”