MVC moving closer to expansion decision

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If it has a choice, the Missouri Valley Conference isn’t waiting around.
MVC commissioner Doug Elgin told FOX Sports Kansas City that the league could be in a position to vote on new members — Creighton is slated to join the new-look Big East this summer — as soon as late April.
“I think we’ll likely be in position to have a decision, or make no decision, by the end of the month,” Elgin said.
Valley presidents are slated to meet the first week of June. MVC athletic directors have meetings scheduled for the middle of May. If a decision were to be fast-tracked, however, a vote could be made via conference call. A three-quarters majority vote — 7 of 9 member schools in this case — is required for the MVC to change or add a member. Previous reports had indicated that the league wanted any new school in place by July 1, at the latest.
While Wichita State is carrying the league’s banner into the Final Four for the first time since 1979, MVC presidents have allegedly been shopping for prospective Bluejay replacements.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette cited sources Thursday that indicated Illinois-Chicago (UIC) would be extended an invitation to join the Valley, but league officials have subsequently denounced the story as conjecture. It’s been widely reported that MVC reps have been talking to, or plan to talk to, UIC, Loyola (Ill.), Valparaiso, Oral Roberts and Missouri-Kansas City.
Speculation is also rampant as to whether the Valley would prefer to replace Creighton with one school, bringing the membership back up to 10, or expand to 12 or more.
Elgin declined to discuss specific targets, but affirmed that 10 was his ideal count.
“I think 10 is the right number — I’ve always felt that way,” Elgin said. “But, again, I’ve heard varying opinions, so we’re going to take it as it comes.”
For some, it’s a question of using quantity to replace quality from a financial standpoint — Creighton has ranked among the nation’s Top 25 schools in men’s basketball attendance for seven straight years, and was perennially the top fan draw to the MVC’s postseason tournament in St. Louis by a significant margin, despite the distance from its Omaha campus.
Regardless of whether or not UMKC is included in the Valley’s eventual makeover, the St. Louis-based league has made no secret that it would to like to maintain, if not increase, its presence in Kansas City.
The Valley served as the host for the NCAA Tournament’s second- and third-round games at Sprint Center last month, and Elgin told FOX Sports Kansas City that he plans to look into the possibility of Sprint hosting the MVC men’s hoops tourney in the future. The league’s present contract with Scottrade Center in St. Louis runs through 2015.
“Not that we want to leave St. Louis,” Elgin noted. “We’re really trying to keep an open mind about what we can do to improve our venues and maybe increase a little buzz about the tournament.”
Elgin says he’s also continued to put feelers out to Bowl Championship Series-level leagues about pairing up member schools for neutral-site “classics” at locales such as Sprint Center or the United Center in Chicago. Iowa’s two Valley programs, Northern Iowa and Drake, recently entered into a partnership with neighboring Iowa from the Big Ten and Iowa State from the Big 12 to play doubleheaders at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, an arrangement that replaced years of home-and-home contests between the larger and smaller institutions.
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