Room to grow in Valley

By Gus Bode

Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game’s over. I’m outta here.Spt_column_tm_

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

POSSIBLE HEADLINES:1) Room to grow, 2) Room to grow in the Valley; 3) MVC could be next superpower


So it’s official. Representatives from Miami and Virginia Tech are set to announce today in a press conference that the two schools have accepted invitations to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, effectively ending months of speculation.

Now, as the Big East attempts to figure out what to do with two fewer teams, a domino effect may occur, and the rest of the nation could feel the repercussions of this shift of power.

There has been talk for some time that the Big East would try to fill the void created by these departures by yanking some teams from smaller conferences such as Conference USA. This led to discussions of several different scenarios that would lead to a possible overhaul of C-USA.

In the event of such a travesty, it has been rumored that some higher-level schools in the conference would band together and form their own league. And in the process, they would possibly snatch a couple teams from the Missouri Valley Conference to flesh out the new league.

To combat a hit of that magnitude, MVC officials may be considering adding two more teams to the conference. It has been rumored that the league is seriously looking at Butler and Western Kentucky to become members of the Valley.

These rumors set off a flurry of discussion on Internet message boards a couple weeks ago as to the logistics of expansion and the possible implications it could have on the league.

While the ACC’s expansion is clearly to improve its status as a premier football conference, the Valley’s main concern for expansion would revolve around basketball. Both Butler and WKU have had plenty of success on the hardwood recently, and these two teams could bolster what is already considered perhaps the top mid-major conference in the nation.


Adding two quality programs could bring the MVC to a level that would make the NCAA selection committee take notice and result in the league earning two at-large bids to the national tournament.

Of course, naysayers have also mentioned that 12 teams effectively do away with the traditional round-robin format of the regular season. Increasing the level of play in the league may also invariably cause conference records to take a hit for most teams, thus making it harder for teams to earn a bid to the Big Dance.

The best argument against expansion may also be the most obvious – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, Valley teams have complained seemingly forever of not getting the respect or funding they deserve.

By expanding to Butler and possibly Saint Louis, which has also been discussed, the Valley would effectively gain two of the largest markets in the Midwest in Indianapolis and St. Louis, respectively.

Everyone knows, as is the case in the ACC, money will always win out over tradition, and it is no different in the Valley.

However, there are other, less fiscally related reasons why the conference might consider expanding.

All three of the aforementioned schools have men’s and women’s swimming programs. Adding two of them would mean that only one current league member would have to reinstate its men’s swimming program for the conference to meet the required participation level.

Currently, only three of the 10 Valley schools have a men’s swimming program – SIU, Southwest Missouri State and Evansville. If any of the schools that recently dropped their men’s programs do bring them back, coupled with the possible expansion, the league would have 50 percent participation rate needed to have a conference tournament in the Valley.

Expansion would also improve competition in all other sports in the Valley such as baseball, softball and golf.

Some people have tried to figure out how an expanded MVC would be realigned in terms of geography. Some scenarios have included an East-West split or a North-South split.

However, this is a less important detail that could be worked out later.

The biggest concern for the Valley right now should be the continued progress it has made in the last decade. Whether that means expanding to 12 teams or adding a couple teams to combat possible departures, that doesn’t matter.

The ACC has finally got its way, and it will likely have a bigger stake in the world of college football. Hopefully, it won’t be to the detriment of smaller conferences like the Valley.

Todd is a senior in journalism. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.