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IUPUI expected to join Horizon League this week

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser Paydar has scheduled an on-campus announcement for Wednesday morning, and the expectation is he will formally accept the Horizon League's invitation for membership.

IUPUI is expected to announce Wednesday it is joining the Horizon League.

The News first reported that the Horizon League executive board voted earlier this month to make IUPUI the 10th member institution, replacing departing Valparaiso. The official deadline for a decision is Saturday.

IUPUI also is likely to start play in the Horizon League this season, a quick transition from the Summit League.

The decision would leave the Summit League with eight schools, until North Dakota joins in 2018-19.

IUPUI isn't the biggest splash possible for the Horizon League, given the league fancies itself as an on-the-rise basketball mid-major, and IUPUI has only made one NCAA Tournament.

But there's long been interest between the two parties, given the Horizon League's offices are in Indianapolis. Valparaiso bolting for the Missouri Valley Conference — it will pay a $500,000 exit fee — left the league without a team from Indiana, and that was never considered acceptable, even for a year.

Bigger additions could be coming not too far down the road, as the Horizon League, home to Oakland and Detroit Mercy, looks to possibly expand to as many as 14 teams, and perhaps even as far west as New Mexico or Arizona.

Today, the league is contained to six, adjoining Midwest states, most recently expanding to Kentucky.

Having an institution in Indianapolis could someday lead the Horizon League to eventually hold its basketball championships there. The men's tournament is entering Year 3 of a five-year contract to play in Detroit, but has an opt-out after Year 3, scheduled for Little Caesars Arena. The women's tournament is on a year-to-year basis.

IUPUI has seven sanctioned men's sports teams, nine women's teams, and one co-ed cheerleading team.

IUPUI would be the fifth university to leave the Summit League since 2010, and the first since Oakland left in 2013.