Oakland wants to fill Butler’s spot in Horizon

Oakland University wants to be in the Horizon League and hopes

it isn’t kept out by the University of Detroit – again.

”About 10 years ago, there was interest in us from the Horizon

League and Detroit stopped it,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe recalled.

”I know that’s a fact because I called the athletic director then,

Brad Kinsman, and he told me.”

Kinsman said Wednesday that Kampe’s recollection is


”The feeling back then was that it didn’t make sense to share

this market with another school in the same conference,” said

Kinsman, who retired in 2006. ”Times have changed, coaches have

changed, but I don’t know what the thinking is now.”

Everyone is left to guess because Detroit officials declined

comment on Oakland’s interest in joining the Horizon.

It also isn’t clear if the Horizon League wants the Golden

Grizzlies to fill the void created last week when Butler announced

plans to join the Atlantic 10.

Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone wouldn’t comment on

Oakland’s public interest. Officials from the Summit League, which

Oakland belongs to, also declined comment.

IUPUI and Robert Morris, in addition to Oakland, are also

potential candidates to take Butler’s spot during the 2013-14

season when the two-time national runner-up starts playing in the

Atlantic 10.

”We’re not going to play this out in the media,” LeCrone said.

”These are delicate matters and we want to handle this process

with respect.

”If we decide to go beyond the number of nine schools, which is

not absolutely necessary, we’ll do it in a prudent and thoughtful


Kampe said he has talked to coaches in the Horizon League and

all have been supportive of adding his program.

Has Kampe spoken to Detroit coach Ray McCallum about it?

”No, that is not a coach I’ve talked to about this,” he


If the Horizon League expresses an interest in Oakland, athletic

director Tracy Huth said he would reach out to Detroit


The Golden Grizzlies have earned a bid in the NCAA three times

since 2005, including twice in the last three years, from a league

that forces them to travel to South Dakota State and Southern Utah.

Geographically, it would make sense for a school based in

Rochester, Mich., to play in a league filled with teams from Ohio,

Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin – and a school about 20 miles to

its south.

Kampe also thinks it would be a wise move for the Horizon League

to add Oakland.

”I think we’ve proven ourselves,” Kampe said. ”If you look at

the last two years, we’d rank in the top third in the Horizon in

attendance and RPI. Basketball is the flagship of that league so

I’d think we’d help keep their RPI consistent after they lose


”And from a travel standpoint, we’re right in the middle of

their footprint. Teams could play Detroit and us on a Thursday and

Saturday and wouldn’t even have to change hotels.”

But the Titans still may not want to share the Motor City market

with another school in the same conference.

Kampe, though, believes it would be a win-win deal.

”I think an Oakland-Detroit rivalry would be huge in southeast

Michigan,” he said. ”When we played, there would be full houses,

we’d be on the front page of the Detroit News and Free Press. There

also would be television exposure that would help both schools and

the Horizon. I don’t see how it would be a negative for Detroit to

have us in the same league.”

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage