Views on why NIU was left out of the MVC



The Missouri Valley Conference elected to invite the University of Evansville as its only expansion team for the time being. That leaves NIU asking itself why our bid to join got nixed.

“Going in, we were quite aware that the biggest issue within the conference was the public, private imbalance,” said NIU athletic director Gerald O’Dell. “There are presently six public schools and four privates (not including Evansville). We knew that there was a strong desire to work towards a balance of public vs. private.”

Evansville, a private school, accepted the invitation to join the MVC last week.

The decision was not based on a school’s athletic program alone. He commented that all five school’s were very impressive institutions, but Evansville had the most of what the MVC was looking for.

‘It fits geographically in the Valley.

‘The school is deep in tradition.

‘They average 11,500 people at home basketball games and the men’s soccer program has qualified for the NCAA tournament nine out of the last ten years.

As far as why the conference did not expand further to include another school, MVC officials felt that with 12 teams in the conference, they would have to split into two six-team divisions.

That would leave division foes with a home-and-home series each year and play only one game against teams in the other division, only 16 conference games a year.

“We would not go to a deal where we would play a 22-game conference schedule,” said Jack Watkins, assistant commissioner for communications. “When we had our fall meetings in St. Louis, (our coaches) were very outspoken in the press about not having divisional play, and the presidents definitely voted that way.”

At the press conference Evansville held, the school announced their withdrawal from the Midwest Collegiate Conference while joining the Missouri Valley, effective in July 1994.

“This decision was made deliberately, over a long period of time,” said MVC commissioner Doug Elgin. “I feel our presidents have made the right decision.”

Although the decision is final, the possibility that they may expand again after the next few years was brought up and Elgin commented that the possibility existed that a 12th or even 13th school may be added after a year or two.