Loyola University Chicago, one of UE’s former Midwestern City Conference rivals, has accepted an invitation to join the MVC and will be announced as the its newest member at a news conference Friday.
The private Jesuit university replaces another with the same values, as Creighton’s departure for the new Big East Conference next season created the opening.
Loyola, a current Horizon League member, has an enrollment that exceeds 15,000 and plays its men’s basketball games at Joseph J. Gentile Arena, a recently renovated multi-purpose facility on campus.
The large-market university was one of a few Horizon League schools, along with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, that MVC leadership visited and evaluated in the last month. An early March report from USA Today indicated that Belmont, Oral Roberts and Denver were also in play to restore the MVC’s membership to 10 institutions.
Fielding a 10-member league allows for continued round-robin scheduling in men’s and women’s basketball, where each team plays the others twice to determine a regular-season champion.
There are no indications as of now that the MVC will expand beyond 10 schools.
The Ramblers claim the only men’s basketball program in Illinois to ever win a national title, which they did in 1963. George Ireland’s teams back then were known for racial integration in the game, including starting four black players against Cincinnati in the 1963 title game.
The program’s other top moment came by making the 1985 Sweet 16.
More recently, the women’s basketball program tabbed WNBA great Sheryl Swoops its coach on Friday.
Any realignment moves made effective for the 2013-2014 MVC sports season likely needed to be made before July. Creighton announced its intention to leave on March 20.
Along with Detroit, Loyola is the only Horizon League (formerly MCC) member left over from the league’s start in 1979, when UE originally joined before its departure in 1994.