Horizon League

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Horizon League
Horizon League logo
Established 1979
Association NCAA
Division Division I non-football
Members 9
Sports fielded 19 (men's: 9; women's: 10)
Region Great Lakes
Former names Midwestern City Conference (1979–1985)
Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1985–2001)
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana
Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone (since 1992)
Website horizonleague.org
Locations
Horizon League locations

The Horizon League is a nine-school, collegiate athletic conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, whose members are located in the Midwestern United States.

The Horizon League is best known for its men's basketball teams and is one of the top performing NCAA Division I conferences in that sport according to the NCAA Men's Basketball Rating Percentage Index (RPI).[1] Only seven conferences have won at least one game in seven of the last eight NCAA Tournaments: the six BCS conferences and the Horizon League (Butler four times, Milwaukee twice, and Cleveland State once).[citation needed] The Horizon League has been a multi-bid conference nine times, including twice in the last six years, and had a conference-record three teams in 1998. The Horizon League has had a team win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament 11 of the last 15 years, which also betters every non-BCS conference. Horizon League teams have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (or further) five of the last ten years (Butler four times, Milwaukee once), which exceeds all but one non-BCS conference.[citation needed] Multiple Horizon League members have made Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four appearances.[2] The Horizon League currently holds the fifth best winning percentage among non-BCS conferences in the men's NCAA basketball Tournament (21–31, .404, 11th best among the 31 Division I conferences).[3] The Horizon League currently ranks 11th out of 32 NCAA Division I conferences in RPI, while having an average finish of 12th (out of 31) over the past seven seasons.[4][5]

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

In May 1978, DePaul University hosted a meeting with representatives from Bradley, Dayton, Detroit, Illinois State, Loyola, Air Force, and Xavier in which all agreed in principle that a new athletic conference was needed. Further progress was made through a series of early 1979 meetings in San Francisco, Chicago, and St. Louis that included participation by Butler, Creighton, Marquette, and Oral Roberts. On June 16, 1979, the Midwestern City Conference (nicknamed the MCC or Midwestern City 6) was formed by charter members Butler, Evansville, Loyola, Oklahoma City, Oral Roberts, and Xavier, with Detroit joining the following year.[6]

Mcconference.gif

Maturity[edit]

In 1980 the league established its headquarters in Champaign, Illinois. The MCC gained an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship in 1981, followed by the announcement that St. Louis University would be joining the following season. The University of Notre Dame joined the conference for all sports except basketball and football in 1982. The conference attained automatic qualification for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 1984 and the conference moved its headquarters to Indianapolis. In 1985, the name was altered slightly to Midwestern Collegiate Conference. At that time, the conference brought women's athletics into the fold, which triggered Notre Dame's withdrawal from the league in protest while Oklahoma City dropped out of the NCAA altogether. ESPN began televising the MCC Championship game in 1986 and in 1987 Oral Roberts left the conference while Dayton joined and Notre Dame rejoined. In 1989, the conference received its first at-large bid to the men's basketball tournament and automatic qualification to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. The conference won an automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship in 1991 and the conference lost members Marquette and St. Louis. Duquesne and La Salle joined the MCC in 1992, the same year the conference gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. Duquesne and Dayton left the conference in 1993.

Expansion[edit]

The largest non-merger conference expansion in NCAA history occurred on December 9, 1993 when Cleveland State, UIC, Northern Illinois, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Wright State left the Mid-Continent to join the Midwestern Collegiate beginning with the 1994–95 academic year.[6] With Evansville's departure to the Missouri Valley Conference, there were 12 league members. Xavier, Notre Dame, and La Salle withdrew the following summer of 1995, followed by Northern Illinois in 1997. The conference changed its name to the Horizon League on June 4, 2001, in part due to the initialism causing confusion between the MCC and the Mid-Continent Conference (which also used the initialism). That year, Youngstown State University came to the Horizon League from the Mid-Con, and on May 17, 2006, Valparaiso University announced it would do the same in 2007.[7] As of 2013, eight of the nine Horizon League members are former members of the Mid-Con (now known as The Summit League), with Detroit being the only exception. In addition, four former members are currently in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and three former members are in the current Big East Conference.

The split of the original Big East Conference, leading to the formation of the current Big East, had further fallout involving the Horizon League. Loyola announced in April 2013 that it would leave the Horizon effective July 1 to join the Missouri Valley Conference, which itself had lost Creighton to the new Big East.[8] Within a month, the Horizon had announced that Loyola would immediately be replaced by Oakland University, formerly of The Summit League.[9]

Horizon League Network[edit]

Horizon League Network
Launched 2006
Owned by Horizon League
Picture format 720p
Country United States
Broadcast area Webcast
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana

In 2006, the conference launched Horizon League Network (HLN) as the centerpiece of a revamped web portal.[10] In partnership with The CBS College Sports Network, the broadband network airs over 200 live events free on the League's official website. Events include regular season basketball games, tournament matches, archived championships, The Horizon League Report, and other programming from the array of athletics the league sponsors. Its coverage complements events televised on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and members' local sports networks.

The Horizon League and WebStream Productions launched a completely redesigned Horizon League Network [1] website in September 2009. The site, which can be found at www.HorizonLeagueNetwork.tv, serves as a portal to hundreds of live and on-demand videos while giving its users the ability to interact on an array of social media platforms.

Member schools[edit]

Current members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment Endowment [11] Nickname Colors U.S. News
Ranking[11]
Cleveland State University Cleveland, Ohio 1964 1994 Public 16,418 N/A Vikings Forest green & White
         
not ranked
University of Detroit Mercy (Detroit) Detroit, Michigan 1877 1980 Private 5,700 $24,822,000 Titans Blue, Red & White
              
25
(Regional: Midwest)
University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (Green Bay) Green Bay, Wisconsin 1965 1994 Public 6,549 $27,453,327 Phoenix Forest green & White
         
65
(Regional: Midwest)
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (Milwaukee) Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1956 1994 Public 30,502 $85,776,875 Panthers Black & Gold
         
not ranked
Oakland University Rochester, Michigan 1957 2013 Public 17,737 $55,484,599 Golden Grizzlies Black & Gold
         
not ranked
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Chicago, Illinois 1946 1994 Public 27,580 $242,373,220 Flames Navy blue & Fire engine red
         
128
(National)
Valparaiso University Valparaiso, Indiana 1859 2007 Private 4,000 $163,530,000 Crusaders Brown & Gold
         
6
(Regional: Midwest)
Wright State University Dayton, Ohio 1964 1994 Public 17,074 $101,755,731 Raiders Green & Gold
         
not ranked
Youngstown State University Youngstown, Ohio 1908 2001 Public 15,058 $185,802,058 Penguins Red & White
         
not ranked

Affiliate members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment Endowment Nickname Colors Sport(s)
Belmont University Nashville, Tennessee 1890 2014 Private/Non-denominational 6,647 $90,860,000 Bruins Navy & Red
         
Men's soccer

Former members[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Left Type Enrollment Nickname Current conference
Butler University Indianapolis, Indiana 1855 1979 2012 Private 4,667 Bulldogs Big East
University of Dayton Dayton, Ohio 1850 1987 1993 Private 11,186 Flyers Atlantic 10 (A-10)
Duquesne University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1878 1992 1993 Private 10,363 Dukes Atlantic 10 (A-10)
University of Evansville Evansville, Indiana 1854 1979 1994 Private 3,050 Purple Aces Missouri Valley
La Salle University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1863 1992 1995 Private 7,554 Explorers Atlantic 10 (A-10)
Loyola University Chicago Chicago, Illinois 1870 1979 2013[8] Private 15,068 Ramblers Missouri Valley
Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1881 1988/1989[a 1] 1991 Private 12,002 Warriors[a 2] Big East
Northern Illinois University DeKalb, Illinois 1895 1994 1997 Public 25,313 Huskies Mid-American (MAC)
University of Notre Dame South Bend, Indiana 1842 1982;
1987/1988[b 1]
1986;
1995
Private 11,733 Fighting Irish ACC
Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 1904 1979 1985 Private 3,770 Chiefs[a 3] Sooner (SAC)
(NAIA)
Oral Roberts University Tulsa, Oklahoma 1963 1979 1987 Private 3,335 Titans[a 4] The Summit
Saint Louis University St. Louis, Missouri 1818 1981/1982[a 5] 1991 Private 13,785 Billikens Atlantic 10 (A-10)
Xavier University Cincinnati, Ohio 1831 1979 1995 Private 6,650 Musketeers Big East
Notes
  1. ^ The Marquette men's basketball team joined the Horizon League a year after becoming a full member for other sports (1989–90).
  2. ^ Marquette adopted its current nickname of Golden Eagles in 1994.
  3. ^ Oklahoma City adopted its current nickname of Stars in 1999.
  4. ^ Oral Roberts adopted its current nickname of Golden Eagles in 1993.
  5. ^ The Saint Louis men's basketball team joined the Horizon League a year after it became a full member for other sports (1982–83).

Membership timeline[edit]

Oakland University Valparaiso University Youngstown State University Wright State University University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee University of Wisconsin–Green Bay University of Illinois at Chicago Cleveland State University Northern Illinois University La Salle University Duquesne University Marquette University University of Dayton University of Notre Dame Saint Louis University University of Detroit Mercy Loyola University Chicago Butler University Xavier University University of Evansville Oral Roberts University Oklahoma City University

Sports[edit]

The Horizon League sponsors championship competition in nine men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[12]

Teams in Horizon League competition
Sport Men's Women's
Baseball 6
Basketball 9 9
Cross country 8 9
Golf 7 7
Soccer 8 8
Softball 8
Swimming and diving 6 7
Tennis 7 8
Track and field (indoor) 6 7
Track and field (outdoor) 6 7
Volleyball 8

Men's basketball[edit]

Horizon League Men's Basketball Tournament Champions[edit]

Historic[edit]

From 1995 to 2011, the Horizon League has sent 24 teams to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Those clubs have produced 22 wins in those 14 years, including five "Sweet 16" appearances, making the Horizon League the only non-BCS conference with Sweet 16 participants in at least five of the last nine tournaments (2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011). Four schools from the conference have produced "modern-day" Sweet 16 appearances - Loyola (1985), Xavier (1990), Butler (2003, 2007, 2010 and 2011), and Milwaukee (2005). The Horizon League has compiled a 15-8 record in the past five years in the NCAA tournament, ranking tops among all NCAA Division I conferences for winning percentage in that span. Butler appeared in the men's national championship game in both 2010 and 2011, losing both times. Since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979, Loyola's 4 seed in the 1985 tournament is the best for a Horizon League team. The Horizon League currently holds the best winning percentage among non-BCS conferences in the men's NCAA basketball Tournament (.488, 7th overall amongst the 31 Division I conferences).[13]

One former Horizon League member claims a national championship from the era before the league's creation. In the 1963 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, Loyola defeated two-time defending champ Cincinnati. Before post-season tournaments determined champions, former Horizon member Butler claimed national titles in 1924 and 1929.[14]

The League hosted the men's Final Four in 1991, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2009 and 2010. It also hosted the women's Final Four in 2005 and 2007. Horizon League commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone, who is in his 17th year as league commissioner, just finished a five-year term on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee.[15]

2000s[edit]

As stated on their official website, the recent success of Horizon League athletic teams on the national stage heightened the visibility of the league and its member schools and quickly moved it closer toward its stated goal of becoming one of the nation's top 10 Division I NCAA athletic conferences.

2002–03[edit]

In the 2003 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, the Horizon League entered two teams for the first time since 1998. Milwaukee, who earned a 12 seed in its first bid to the tournament since joining the conference, lost by one point to Notre Dame in the first round. Butler, who gained an at-large bid and also received a 12 seed, made their fifth tournament appearance in seven years. The Bulldogs made it to the Sweet 16 with victories over No. 20 (5 seed) Mississippi State and No. 14 (4 seed) Louisville before they fell to No. 3 (1 seed) Oklahoma in the East Regional. The Bulldogs finished the year ranked No. 21 in the final ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll.

2004–05[edit]

In the men's 2005 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Horizon League enjoyed one of its best showings ever as 12 seed Milwaukee marched to the Sweet 16 with victories over No. 19 (5 seed) Alabama and No. (4 seed) Boston College before they fell to then-No. 1 and eventual tournament runner-up Illinois. Milwaukee ranked as high as No. 23 in the March 7 ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll.[16]

2005–06[edit]

In the 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament, 11 seed Milwaukee once again advanced in the Tournament by upsetting the No. 20 (6 seed) Oklahoma 82–74. The Panthers, led by first year head coach Rob Jeter, fell to eventual national champion No. 11 (AP)/No. 10 (ESPN) (3 seed) Florida in the second round of the tournament. For the second straight year and third time in the last four years, the league had a team advance past the first round.

2006–07[edit]

In the 2006–07 basketball season, Butler won the Preseason NIT tournament in Madison Square Garden with wins over in-state rivals Notre Dame and Indiana in the NIT's Midwest regional bracket, followed by wins over No. 21 Tennessee and No. 23 Gonzaga in the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden. Later, the Bulldogs claimed victory over Purdue in the Wooden Tradition. On February 5, 2007, Butler became the first school in Horizon League history to be ranked in the Top 10 of the national college basketball polls, as the Bulldogs reached No. 9 and No. 10 in the EPSN/USA Today and AP polls, respectively.[17] The Bulldogs ended their season with a No. 21 ranking in the final AP poll, a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Sweet 16 berth by beating Old Dominion and Maryland before losing to eventual national champion Florida. Wright State also qualified for the NCAA tournament as the winner of the Horizon League Tournament Championship and tying Butler for the regular season championship. As a 14 seed, the Raiders fell to No. 13 (AP)/No. 11 (ESPN) (3 seed) Pittsburgh in the first round.

2007–08[edit]

During the 2007–08 basketball season, Butler won the Great Alaska Shootout with wins over Michigan, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech, and also claimed wins over Ohio State and Florida State, which extended their record against BCS schools to 10–1 since the beginning of the 2006–07 season. As a 7 seed in the 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Bulldogs beat 10 seed South Alabama before falling in overtime to No. 5 (AP)/No. 4 (ESPN) (2 seed) Tennessee. Butler finished the season ranked No. 11 in the AP poll and No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Also, Cleveland State earned a 6 seed in the NIT, losing in the first round to Dayton.

2008–09[edit]

Starting in 2009, regional convenience store and gas station chain Speedway served as the title sponsor of the conference tournament, which Cleveland State won, which earned them the Horizon League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tourney while Butler received an at-large bid. Butler, a 9 seed, lost in the first round to LSU while 13 seed Cleveland State upset No. 8 (AP)/No. 9 (ESPN) (4 seed) Wake Forest 84–69 (and achieved the third biggest upset in NCAA history winning by 15 points) and shocked the nation in the first round of play before falling to 12 seed Arizona in the second round of tournament play. Butler finished the season ranked No. 22 in the final AP poll and No. 25 in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.

2009–10[edit]

After defeating No. 25 (12 seed) UTEP, 13 seed Murray State and No. 4 (1 seed) Syracuse, the No. 8 (ESPN)/No. 11 (AP) (5 seed) Butler men's team defeated No. 7 Kansas State, the 2 seed in the West, by a score of 63–56 to advance to their first Final Four. After beating the No. 12 (ESPN)/No. 13 (AP) (5 seed) Michigan State Spartans 52–50 in the national semifinals, Butler played in Indianapolis against the South Regional Champions, No. 3 (1 seed) Duke for the NCAA Division I National Championship. Butler lost what many are calling the most thrilling college basketball game in a generation, losing 61–59 in a game that came down to the final play. This is the farthest any team has reached in the tournament while a member of the Horizon League. Butler was the first Division I men's team to play in the Final Four in its hometown since UCLA in 1972, and the first of either sex since Texas played in the 1987 Women's Final Four on its home court.

Also of note, former Milwaukee head coach Bruce Pearl coached the Tennessee Volunteers to the Elite Eight and narrowly lost the opportunity to play Butler by losing to Michigan State, who Butler beat in the Final Four.

2010–11[edit]

Butler once again represented the Horizon League in the tournament with another very strong showing. As an 8 seed, Butler defeated (9 seed) Old Dominion, narrowly upset No. 1 ranked and seeded Pittsburgh, (4 seed) Wisconsin and (2 seed) Florida to return to the Final Four. Butler faced VCU, an 11 seed Cinderella team who unexpectedly reached the Final Four as the first team to play five tournament games to reach the Final Four, due to VCU's participation in the inaugural First Four Round. After Butler defeated VCU 70–62, the Bulldogs were in the national championship game for the second consecutive season. This time they faced Connecticut at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The Huskies were too much for the Butler Bulldogs to handle, as Butler lost the game 53–41 in an unusually low-scoring national championship game. This made Butler national runner-up for the second season in a row.

Other sports[edit]

The Milwaukee baseball team made national headlines during the 1999 College World Series by upsetting No. 1 ranked Rice in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In the 2004–05 academic year, Milwaukee's men's soccer team defeated 16th-ranked San Francisco, while Detroit upset Michigan in women's soccer in their respective NCAA tournaments. Also that year, Butler's men's cross country team finished fourth in the nation at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, and their own Victoria Mitchell became the first Horizon League athlete to win an individual national title when she captured the 3,000 Meter Steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Green Bay also upset 6th-ranked Oregon State in the opening round of the NCAA softball tournament.

Although the league does not sponsor football, Youngstown State plays in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while Valparaiso plays in the Pioneer League, both of which play in Division I FCS. Cleveland State currently does not have a football team but is considering launching a non-scholarship FCS football program in the near future, giving the city of Cleveland its first Division I college football team.[18][19] Milwaukee has also looked into reviving its football program as recently as 2011.

Facilities[edit]

School Soccer stadium Capacity Basketball arena Capacity Baseball field Capacity Softball field Capacity
Belmont E. S. Rose Park 2,500 Men's soccer-only member
Cleveland State Krenzler Field 1,680 Wolstein Center 13,610 Non-baseball school Viking Field 500
Detroit Titan Soccer Field 500 Calihan Hall 8,295 Non-baseball school Buysse Ballpark N/A
Green Bay Aldo Santaga Stadium 3,500 Resch Center (men)
Kress Events Center (women)
9,729
4,018
Non-baseball school Phoenix Softball Field 500
Milwaukee Engelmann Field 2,200 U.S. Cellular Arena (men)
Klotsche Center (women)
10,783
3,500
Henry Aaron Field 500 Non-softball school
Oakland Oakland University Soccer Field 1,000 Athletics Center O'rena 4,005 Oakland University Baseball Field 500 OU Softball Field 250
UIC Flames Field 1,000 UIC Pavilion 6,958 Les Miller Field 1,000 Flames Field 500
Valparaiso Brown Field (men)
Eastgate Field (women)
5,000
2,500
Athletics–Recreation Center 5,000 Emory G. Bauer Field 500 Valpo Softball Field 500
Wright State Alumni Field 1,000 Nutter Center 10,449 Nischwitz Stadium 750 WSU Softball Field N/A
Youngstown State Stambaugh Stadium 20,630 Beeghly Center (primary)
Covelli Centre (special events)
6,300
5,900
Eastwood Field 6,000 McCune Park 1,000

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Notre Dame rejoined the Horizon League for all men's sports except basketball after a season as an Independent. Its women's sports, which had been in the North Star Conference since the 1983–84 school year, moved to the Horizon League beginning the following season (1988–89).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2010 NCAA Men's Basketball RPI". Web1.ncaa.org. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Division I Men's Basketball Championship History". NCAA.com. 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  3. ^ http://www.hoopstournament.net/StandardReports/By_Current_Conference.pdf
  4. ^ "Men's College Basketball Rating Percentage Index (RPI) Ratings - A leading sports ratings and resources community on the Internet". Realtimerpi.com. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  5. ^ "NCAA College Basketball RPI Rankings (updated today)". Teamrankings.com. 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  6. ^ a b History – Horizon League.
  7. ^ Press Release. Valpo to Join Horizon League in 2007-2008 May 17, 2006.
  8. ^ a b "Report: Loyola to Missouri Valley". ESPNChicago.com. Associated Press. April 14, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Oakland University to Join" (Press release). Horizon League. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  10. ^ HLN-Horizon League Network: Home
  11. ^ a b Rankings
  12. ^ "HorizonLeague.com". Horizon League. 2013-05-05. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  13. ^ NCAA tournament records by conference, through 2006
  14. ^ Butler To Induct Seven Individuals, Two Teams Into Hall of Fame :: National championship basketball squads of 1924 and 1929 to become first teams enshrined
  15. ^ Player Bio: Jonathan B. LeCrone :: Genrel
  16. ^ 3-28-05 NCAA Division I Basketball Rankings
  17. ^ Butler barks its way to No. 9 spot in weekly ESPN/USA Today national poll, 10th in AP (Horizon League), retrieved 2010-03-31
  18. ^ Cleveland State Ballot Initiatives, (Cleveland State - Student Life - Board of Elections), retrieved 2010-06-19.
  19. ^ Cleveland State considers a new name and a new football team, (Cleveland.com), retrieved 2010-06-19.

External links[edit]