Loyola University Chicago has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference it was announced today by University President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., and Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Dr. M. Grace Calhoun. The Ramblers will begin participation in all sports with the exception of men’s volleyball, which remains a member of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA), for the 2013-14 season. Loyola’s membership takes effect July 1, 2013.
“I am pleased to announce that Loyola University Chicago will be joining the Missouri Valley Conference,” Father Garanzini says. “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.”
“We are very honored to have received this invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference, one of the most historic and competitive conferences in the country. We look forward to reestablishing nationally competitive programs and growing Loyola’s modern athletics brand,” Calhoun says. “I am confident Loyola will not only be a strong and valued new member of the conference athletically, but will also enhance the reputation of the conference through the addition of a world-class university in a world-class city with student athletes who excel academically, athletically, and in life.”
“This is a historic moment for the Missouri Valley and for Loyola University, and we strongly believe in the commitment and the potential that is very evident with this institution,” says MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin. “Their University leadership has made a very significant investment in athletics facilities and in staffing in recent years, and we are confident that Loyola is going to be a great competitive fit in our Conference.”
Loyola’s athletics program, which is known for its storied traditions in men’s basketball and cross country/track and field, has achieved unprecedented growth in the last few years and this year the University celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic achievements of the 1963 men’s basketball team which won the NCAA championship. Since 2005, five Rambler programs have advanced to at least one NCAA Championship and entering the 2013 spring season, Loyola ranked No. 1 in the Horizon League’s all-sports standings as it strives to win the McCafferty Trophy for the first time in program history.
Founded in 1907, the Missouri Valley Conference is the nation’s second-oldest NCAA Division I athletics conference, second only to the Big Ten Conference. In its first 106 years, the Valley has had 32 members, but Loyola is the league’s first member from the city of Chicago.
The change in conference affiliation for Loyola comes after 34 years in the Horizon League, of which it was the only remaining charter member from its inception in 1979. Likewise, the Missouri Valley Conference has been known for its stability and prior to Creighton University’s announcement last month that it would be departing the league, has not had a change in membership since 1996 when Tulsa left for the Western Athletic Conference.
Other members of the Missouri Valley Conference (as of July 1, 2013) include Bradley University, Drake University, the University of Evansville, Illinois State University, Indiana State University, Missouri State University, Southern Illinois University, the University of Northern Iowa, and Wichita State University.