Missouri Valley Conference Invites Valparaiso to Replace Wichita State

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2017

Kentucky's Dominique Hawkins, left, defends Valparaiso's Alec Peters during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 87-63.(AP Photo/James Crisp)
James Crisp/Associated Press

The Missouri Valley Conference formally provided Valparaiso University with a membership invitation Tuesday following a vote by the league's presidents council. The Crusaders' sports teams would replace departed Wichita State if the offer is accepted.

The conference provided a statement about the decision on social media:

Wichita State, which is best known for its basketball program, was aligned with the MVC for more than seven decades before it agreed to join the American Athletic Conference last month. The Shockers are slated to leave July 1.

Dargan Southard of the Des Moines Register reported MVC officials also visited Murray State, Omaha and Milwaukee before making the offer to Valparaiso. The school's arrival from the Horizon League would give the MVC an equal split between public and private schools.

It's unclear whether further expansion will be included in the future.

Missouri State University president Clif Smart said the "expansion committee will continue to meet for the next nine months to evaluate further expansion opportunities" after the Valpo announcement.

The Crusaders bring a recent history of basketball success to help replace the Shockers. They have qualified for the NCAA tournament nine times, including twice in the past five years.

Valparaiso finished the 2016-17 season with a 24-9 record after losing to Illinois in the first round of the NIT under first-year head coach Matt Lottich.