<
>

Loyola joins Missouri Valley

Loyola has accepted an invitation and agreed in principle to join the Missouri Valley Conference, a school spokesperson confirmed on Monday.

The Ramblers will replace Creighton which will be moving to the Big East. Loyola is expected to officially join the conference on July 1.

Loyola has been in the Horizon League since the conference's beginning in 1979.

In the past two and a half years, Loyola has upgraded its athletic facilities, renovated the Gentile Center, and hired an athletic director (M. Grace Calhoun), men's basketball coach (Porter Moser) and women's basketball coach (Sheryl Swoopes).

Moser has plenty of familiarity with the Missouri Valley. He played in the conference at Creighton and coached at Illinois State.

Moser said Monday he believes there is a lot of potential for his program joining the Missouri Valley, which had two teams, including Final Four participant Wichita State, reach the NCAA tournament this past season.

"I've always said Loyola is the perfect job for me personally and a great fit," Moser said. "Now I can say I have the trifecta. I have a Jesuit education; I'm a Catholic kid from the Chicago area; and now I've played in the Missouri Valley. I can sit in peoples' homes and sell Loyola to recruits. I've played and coached in this league and understand how good the league is, the atmosphere in the league and the profile of the Valley."

Moser also said he hoped to continue his program's inner-city rivalry with Illinois-Chicago on a non-conference basis. UIC has been in the Horizon League since 1994.

"I think no question being in the same conference raised it up a notch," Moser said of the rivalry. "I anticipate it not losing an ounce of intensity. We want the Chicago teams to play each other. It's great for the city. It's great for the programs. I think it'll continue to be a healthy, intense rivalry."