University of Evansville athletic director John Stanley on Thursday refuted a report published last night that said the school will move to the Horizon League, saying, “The University of Evansville is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, and we haven’t had any discussions about changing conferences.”
Stanley added: “We understand that the conference world is changing rapidly and has over the last couple years, so we always have to be aware of the circumstances surrounding us, and we’ll make decisions based on events as they occur. We enjoy the Missouri Valley Conference, but we need to be cognizant of the world surround us as it comes to athletic conferences.”
The original report published by PantherU.com, a Milwaukee-based blog run and edited by sports writers covering Horizon League member Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said Belmont and Oakland would make the move with UE.
“Not able to confirm this 100%, but it looks like Belmont, Oakland and Evansville will be joining the Horizon League. I’m not hearing any other schools brought up by my contacts, and too many contacts are using those three together. Either everyone I talk to is conferring with each other, or where there’s smoke there’s fire. I’m thinking the latter.”
The Horizon League recently lost Butler to the Atlantic-10 Conference, and commissioner Jon LeCrone has since considered expansion in reports that named both Belmont and Oakland. Published reports didn’t mention Evansville until Wednesday night.
The Missouri Valley Conference last season compiled the eighth-best league Ratings Percentage Index ranking in men’s basketball compared to the Horizon League’s 13th-place spot. But the move wouldn’t have seem too far-fetched, allowing UE’s programs to compete more consistently across the board in a smaller conference.
Current Horizon League members include Cleveland State, Detroit, Green Bay, Loyola, UW-Millwaukee, Illinois-Chicago, Valparaiso, Wright State and Youngstown State.