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Multiple industry sources tell me that the Missouri Valley Conference is expected to invite Murray State. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports was first to the story. Norlander reports that the Racers are expected to join the MVC in July of 2022.
According to Jeff Bidwell, the Murray State Board of Regents is scheduled to meet on Friday, with an item on their agenda dedicated to "conference affiliation"
Multiple sources also tell me that the Missouri Valley Conference is likely to also add UIC, although on a different timetable. MVC officials are planning on visiting Chicago this weekend for a final site visit, and industry sources expect UIC to eventually be offered an invitation after the visits, barring anything unexpected.
The additions of Murray State and UIC would give the Missouri Valley Conference 12 basketball playing institutions, once Loyola-Chicago leaves and Belmont joins.
Industry sources also tell me that Murray's departure was expected by OVC officials, and the league will continue to seek to expand, with their search including both current D-I, FCS-football playing institutions, (such as Western Illinois and Arkansas-Pine Bluff) as well potentially D-II institutions in the Midwest and Upper South (such as Southern Indiana, Hillsdale, Grand Valley State and Lincoln Memorial).
On the court, Murray State is easily the better program at the moment. The Racers have a Men's Basketball NET rating of 45, ahead of every current MVC program outside of Loyola Chicago, who will be departing for the A10. Murray's women's basketball team has a NET rating of 117, which would still be in the top half of the OVC. UIC's basketball teams are ranked 275and 315, respectively.
While UIC isn't as competitive on the basketball court as many other programs in the MVC, they can offer something potentially even more important to MVC university presidents: access to the Chicago market. Throughout this process, multiple administrators at MVC institution stressed the importance of getting access to new urban areas to recruit more students, not just athletes. With so many schools depending heavily on Chicago, and especially Chicago's suburbs, for enrollment, continuing to have a presence in the city was seen as a major priority.
As of this moment, it is not yet known if the conference will consider additional expansion beyond 12. UMKC and UT-Arlington were also considered during this process. Should UTA fail to secure a home in the MVC, Extra Points has been told that there are administrators in the Southland and WAC that would potentially be very interested in adding them.
It is also not known at the moment where Murray State's FCS football program will play. The Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Missouri Valley Conference are two completely different entities, with different leadership and different member institutions, and an invitation to one league does not automatically mean an invitation to the other is forthcoming.
If the MVFC does not accept Murray State, the ASUN could potentially be a option. When reached for comment, ASUN commissioner Ted Gumbart told Extra Points that the league is unable to comment on school membership issues.
This newsletter will be updated with more information as it becomes available.