MVC Expansion Exclusive – Part Two
(St. Louis, MO) – Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Doug Elgin believes Valparaiso will become a leading team among the Valley basketball programs and the league’s future is bright. We sat down with the 29-year veteran of commanding the Valley and he explained more of the behind the scenes activity of the expansion process.
MVC officials endeavored to keep the process as private as possible for the sake of the institutions being considered, and yet Elgin admits the social media storm was impressive. A ‘distasteful’ part of the process to Elgin is the idea that to recruit a new athletic program to the Valley is to force another conference to adjust to that loss.
Wichita State’s departure from the Valley was the second such in event in the last four years for the nation’s second oldest basketball conference. Creighton left for the Big East in 2013. The Bluejay and Shocker programs have been the most successful in recent Valley history, so the blow to the league is significant.
As the conference looks for stability, but also the opportunity to reestablish itself as a major force in the mid major world, the university presidents and Commissioner Elgin are looking to Valparaiso to be more than just another member. While they don’t expect Valpo to replace Wichita State, they are looking to the Crusader program to compete for championships, lead academically and to truly be a force in the Valley hoops world.
As we noted earlier in the week, the Crusaders have the highest rated recruiting class (according to VerbalCommits) coming into the Valley this season, and according to the recently released NCAA APR report, they received a perfect 1,000 academic score. They instantly become the most decorated academic and recruiting team in men’s basketball.
Throughout the process there was much said in the media (both social and the press) about the Valley’s ‘public/private’ balance. Commissioner Elgin doesn’t believe that issue is as pronounced as others suggest. While there are differences between the two, both the advantages and disadvantages of those differences are more pronounced in sports other than men’s basketball.
Valparaiso finished the season with a 71 RPI rating and their strength of schedule was a 187 (RealTimeRPI.com). Given the weakness (by comparison to the Valley) of their conference opponents, their SOS was outstanding. The Crusaders played and defeated, Alabama, BYU, Ball State and Rhode Island, while losing to Kentucky and Oregon during their non-conference schedule. As noted by Elgin, they swept their games against MVC members Missouri State and Indiana State.
The Valley has invited a significant basketball presence into their league.