All of the Crusaders’ athletic teams with the exception of football, which remains in the Pioneer Football League, will begin competition in the league this fall, and will immediately be eligible for conference championships as well as automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
The Horizon League was founded in 1979 as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and sponsors championships in 19 sports for men and women. Valpo will be joining Butler University, Cleveland State University, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University.
“Sixty-one percent of all Valparaiso alumni reside in the five states encompassed by the Horizon League,” Valparaiso University President Dr. Alan Harre said. “Seventy-one percent of our students come from these five states. In addition, many of the alumni in these states are in metropolitan areas not served by our previous conference affiliation, so a greater number now will have an opportunity to watch the performances of student-athletes representing their alma mater.” The Horizon League sponsors competition in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis and indoor and outdoor track and field for men and in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and indoor and outdoor track and field for women. Valparaiso competes in all sports except golf.
“The addition of Valparaiso University as our 10th member marks a very exciting time for the Horizon League,” Jonathan B. LeCrone, Horizon League Commissioner, said. “As the fourth private school member, Valpo is an extraordinary fit for the League. They share our core values of academic achievement, community service and personal responsibility, and their location in the middle of our League’s Midwest footprint, in addition to their highly competitive athletics program, enhances the profile of the Horizon League.” Valparaiso kicks off Horizon League action on September 16 with a men’s soccer match against Loyola at Toyota Park in Chicago. The Crusader volleyball team hosts UIC on September 21, the first Horizon League competition to take place on the Valparaiso campus.
Valpo will also host the 2007 Horizon League Cross Country Championships at Sunset Hills Farm Park on October 27. This is also the first chance for the Crusaders to compete for a league title.
“By becoming a member of the Horizon League we give our student-athletes the opportunity to compete in a Midwestern conference with a national reach,” Mark LaBarbera, Valparaiso University Director of Athletics said. “We will be renewing and strengthening relationships and rivalries that have historic significance to our student-athletes, our alumni, and all of our constituents.”
Valparaiso University makes the move to the Horizon League after having been a member of the Mid-Continent Conference since its inception in 1982.