The Missouri Valley Visits Are Over
(St. Louis, MO) – The campus visits are over and now the Missouri Valley Conference power brokers are left with huge decisions. Do they want to add one team or multiple teams? Which campus, facility and administration impressed them the most? Which market helps the television ratings?
There may be other steps, but the campus visits to Murray State, Valparaiso, Milwaukee and Nebraska-Omaha are over and Commissioner Doug Elgin and the university presidents and athletic directors are sorting through the findings and impressions.
Several outlets have confirmed that Valley officials have been to those four campuses and I’m told the campus visit portion of the process is over and only the schools that have been visited will be seriously considered as a new member of the MVC.
Todd Hefferman of thesouthern.com tells us SIU athletic director Tommy Bell is a member of the Valley’s search committee, and that every Valley program has at least one representative on the committee, typically either an athletic director, president, chancellor or senior women’s administrator.
Paul Suellentrop’s round table of some Valley writers gives a great view of the varying opinions about what the MVC should do in terms of numbers of teams and which ones. Head to the Wichita Eagle and read those genuinely ‘informed’ opinions. Those are some of the most respected writers in the midwest if not in the nation.
Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinal confirmed Wednesday that UW-Milwaukee is engaged in discussions with the Valley. Dennis Dodd of cbssports.com confirmed the visit to Nebraska-Omaha.
The big questions remain.
What is the Right Size?
A tenth team keeps the Valley at a very manageable number for their existing scheduling and end of season tournament to go unchanged. Eleven forces the league into 20 conference games and that has both positive and negative ramifications. Divisional break downs would come into play if Elgin and company want to grow to a dozen teams, but those configurations both enhance and limit rivalries.
Clearly Murray State and Valparaiso have a long-standing trail of success to bring to the Valley. Milwaukee and Omaha bring bigger markets, but they also bring hyphenated names. Clearly dropping out of the running are the Dakota schools, Belmont, Oral Roberts and UMKC. Of the four remaining candidates, Murray State and Valpo both averaged over 3,000 fans per game last year, while Omaha and Milwaukee attracted less than 2,000 per game despite being in larger markets.
If the Valley lands Murray State, Omaha and one of the other two teams, then they will have affected three other midmajor conferences. If, however both Milwaukee and Valparaiso move to the MVC, the Horizon league would sustain the major blow of losing two important programs.
We should know soon. Several sources have indicated to me that league officials want this done by early May.