CARBONDALE — Valparaiso University stayed in the Mid-Continent Conference for over a decade, and has called the Horizon League home for the last 10 years.
All that could change if the Crusaders accept the Missouri Valley Conference's bid to be its 10th team in 2017-18. The Valley formally invited Valparaiso Tuesday after its presidents council unanimously voted for the move in a Monday night conference call. A spokesperson from Valparaiso declined comment on the university's future Tuesday, but the athletic department with 19 sports is expected to accept the invitation, according to multiple reports.
The private school in Valparaiso, Indiana, will give the Valley another strong men's basketball program with a national following and a strong academic presence. The school of 4,520 students sits about an hour east of Chicago and will give Loyola, Bradley and Illinois State some easy road trips.
Founded in 1859, Valparaiso University offers more than 70 undergraduate majors in five different colleges, according to its website. The graduate school offers more than 40 master's degrees and two doctorate degrees. Half of all Valpo alums have at least one graduate degree.
The Crusaders men's basketball team went 24-9 last season, losing at Illinois in the NIT after All-American forward Alec Peters missed the game with a knee injury. Valparaiso has played in two NCAA Tournaments and three NITs in the last six years, including a run to the 1998 Sweet Sixteen.
Valparaiso beat Mississippi on Bryce Drew's last-second shot that season, then followed it up with an overtime win over Florida State. Rhode Island ended the Crusaders' run.
Valparaiso was also the runner-up in the 2016 NIT, losing to George Washington 76-60 in the title game.
The Crusaders' basketball and volleyball teams compete in the 5,400-capacity Athletics-Recreation Center. The facility houses staff offices and a weight training area, as well as classrooms and video rooms for the teams. It has hosted several postseason events, including the Collegeinsider.com tournament in 2011 and 2014 and the Horizon League men's tournament in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
The court is named after former coach Dr. Homer Drew, Valparaiso's winningest coach. Dedicated in 2010, Homer Drew Court honors the man who led the Crusaders to seven NCAA Tournaments and 371 wins.