MVC ‘impressed’ after guided tour


NIU’s short tenure in the Mid-Continent Conference may soon be severed. The Missouri Valley Conference is deciding whether or not to expand upon their current 10 team enrollment to include several new schools with NIU possibly being one of them.

Six MVC representatives met with our athletic administrators on Monday for an all-day tour of the facilities and personnel here on campus. The meet also opened the door for dialogue between NIU and the Missouri Valley.

“We know that Northern Illinois has had a tremendous tradition of broad based excellence,” said Doug Elgin, Commissioner of the MVC. “We were impressed. It’s an extremely vibrant and progressive university.”

If the MVC were to offer an invitation to NIU, the university would not necessarily jump at the opportunity. What has to be taken into consideration first and foremost is the welfare of the athletic department and what’s best for the university on the whole. However, most of the coaches interviewed were inclined to believe that the MVC was the better conference.

“In different ways, it would mean different things,” said head volleyball coach, Pete Waite. “As far as the level of play (in volleyball), the Missouri Valley from top to bottom is overall the stronger conference.”

Being as strong as the MVC is in basketball, neither men’s nor women’s basketball bosses would mind the change.

“It would definitely be in our best interest to look into the situation,” said head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle.

“Mostly it comes down to tradition,” said men’s boss Brain Hammel. “Missouri Valley’s been around for a lot longer time than the Mid-Con.”

A long time is an understatement. Formed in 1907, the conference is celebrating it’s 86th anniversary this season. The MVC is the oldest athletic conference west of the Mississippi River and the fourth oldest in the country.

The ten schools that make up the conference are: Bradley, Creighton, Drake, Illinois State, Indiana State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Southwest Missouri State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

Some of the NBA stars that have come from these schools include Xavier McDaniel (Wichita State), Benoit Benjamin (Creghton) and Hersey Hawkins (Bradley).

The MVC has also produced some of the NBA’s greatest players. Larry Bird (Indiana State) and Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati, when they were in the conference from the 1957 season through 1970) to name but a few.

Not only is the MVC a successful basketball conference, but it is also a perennial baseball powerhouse.

Since 1980, 22 MVC teams have participated in the NCAA baseball tournament, with seven of those teams advancing to the prestigious College World Series in the last ten years.

Following Wichita State’s 1989 national championship, as many as three MVC teams have been ranked in the top 25 in the country each of the last three years.

Last season marked the first year the MVC included women’s athletics into a league that had only recognized men’s sports for the previous 85 years.