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Loyola’s move to Missouri Valley triggers change for Horizon League

Loyola's Christian Thomas (32) goes up for dunk front Michigan State's Alex Gaunduring first half an NCAA college basketball game

Loyola's Christian Thomas (32) goes up for a dunk in front of Michigan State's Alex Gauna during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

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Updated: April 15, 2013 12:42PM

Loyola’s impending move from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference could be the first of more changes in the next months as the wave of re-alignment continues.

Loyola will announce Friday its move to the Missouri Valley effective July 1, taking the place of Creighton as that school joins DePaul and Marquette in the new 10-member Big East.

Officials from Loyola, the Valley and the Horizon League are withholding comment until the official announcement.

But the move does not come as a surprise and likely will trigger more changes to the 34-year-old Horizon League and others.

``It dates back to a year ago and even further than that,’’ Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone said Monday. ``In this fluid environment, you have to have membership plans.

``We’ve been aggressively pursuing plans, and I would anticipate before July 1 we would have an official announcement on our membership for 2013-14.

``But whatever announcement we have, it’s taking place in a fluid and changing environment, and we have lot of different plans based on different scenarios.’’

He said the coming months ``might be unsettling for a lot of leagues.’’

``I think the next competition year of 2014-15 could be more unsettling,’’ he added. ``This is by no means the end. But wherever this ends up, there will still be a necessity for [leagues] to work together.’’

He added the league’s presence in Chicago would remain strong with UIC and Valparaiso as members.

Both were also considered for Valley membership, as well as Missouri-Kansas City from the Summit League. But the Valley’s prime focus was on adding one of the three Chicago area schools to establish a presence here.

The Valley’s current Illinois membership is downstate with Bradley, Illinois State, and Southern Illinois. Its Iowa membership includes Drake and Northern Iowa and its Indiana membership includes Indiana State and Evansville.

Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Wichita State are its other members.

The Horizon League’s member strength is in Wisconsin with Green Bay and Milwaukee, and Ohio with Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Wright State. Detroit and UIC are its other major-market members.

``We’re solid in our markets and we anticipate being even more solid,’’ LeCrone said. ``I feel our league is in very good shape, and we’re trying to position ourselves for the future.’’

Loyola’s move out of the Horizon will be historic. It is the lone remaining charter member of the league, which began in 1979 as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. Butler, Evansville, Oklahoma City University, Oral Roberts and Xavier were the others.

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