Horizon League

Horizon League
Horizon League logo
Established 1979
Association NCAA
Division Division I non-football
Members 10
Sports fielded 19 (men's: 9; women's: 10)
Region Great Lakes
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana
Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone (since 1992)
Website horizonleague.org
Horizon League locations

The Horizon League is a ten school, NCAA Division I college athletic conference whose members are located in five of the Midwestern United States.

The Horizon League is best known for its men's basketball teams, and is one of the top performing NCAA Division I conferences in that sport according to the NCAA Men's Basketball RPI.[1] Only seven conferences have won at least one game in the last seven NCAA Tournaments: the six BCS conferences and the Horizon League (Butler four times, Milwaukee twice and Cleveland State once). The Horizon League has been a multi-bid conference nine times (twice in the last five years), including a conference-record three teams in 1998. The Horizon League has had a team advance in the NCAA Tournament 11 of the last 14 years, which also betters every non-BCS conference. Horizon League teams have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen five of the last nine years (Butler four times, Milwaukee once), which exceeds all but one non-BCS conference. Current Horizon League members have also made previous Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four appearances, including a National Championship Loyola in the 1963 NCAA Tournament[2]. Butler also won National Championships in 1924 and 1929, though the legitimacy of those Championships has been a point of contention (see Mythical national championship for more information). The Horizon League currently holds the best winning percentage among non-BCS conferences in the men's NCAA basketball Tournament (39-41, .488, 7th best amongst the 32 Division I conferences).[3] The Horizon League currently ranks 11th out of 32 NCAA Division I conferences in RPI, while having an average finish of 12th over the past six seasons.[4] [5]



Locations of current Horizon League full member institutions.
Institution Location Founded Type Enrollment Joined Nickname Endowment (2009)
Butler University Indianapolis, Indiana 1855 Private 4,200 1979 Bulldogs $128,486,000[1]
Cleveland State University Cleveland, Ohio 1964 Public 16,418 1994 Vikings $43,713,000[1]
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, Michigan 1877 Private 5,700 1979 Titans $17,588,427[2]
University of Wisconsin–Green Bay Green Bay, Wisconsin 1965 Public 6,549 1994 Phoenix $209,947[3]
Loyola University Chicago Chicago, Illinois 1870 Private 15,670 1979 Ramblers $315,305,000[1]
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1956 Public 30,000 1994 Panthers $72,874,031[4]
University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, Illinois 1946 Public 27,309 1994 Flames $149,811,669[5]
Valparaiso University Valparaiso, Indiana 1859 Private 4,000 2007 Crusaders $140,406,000[1]
Wright State University Dayton, Ohio 1964 Public 17,074 1994 Raiders $63,871,000[1]
Youngstown State University Youngstown, Ohio 1908 Public 15,058 2001 Penguins $164,718,000[1]

Former members

Institution Current Conference Years
University of Dayton Atlantic 10 1987–1993
Duquesne University Atlantic 10 1992–1993
University of Evansville Missouri Valley 1979–1994
La Salle University Atlantic 10 1992–1995
Marquette University Big East 1988-1991 (1989-1991 for men's basketball)
Northern Illinois University Mid-American 1994–1997
University of Notre Dame Big East 1982–1986, 1987-1995 (excluding men's basketball)
Oklahoma City University NAIA 1979–1985
Oral Roberts University The Summit League 1979–1987
Saint Louis University Atlantic 10 1981-1991 (1982-1991 for men's basketball)
Xavier University Atlantic 10 1979–1995

Membership timeline

Conference facilities

School Arena Capacity Year Opened Soccer Stadium Capacity Year Opened
Butler Hinkle Fieldhouse 10,000[6][7][8] 1928 Butler Bowl 7,500 1928
Cleveland State Wolstein Center 13,610 1991 Krenzler Field 1,680 1985
Detroit Calihan Hall 8,295 1952 Titan Soccer Field 500 2007
Green Bay Resch Center (men)
Kress Events Center (women)
Aldo Santaga Stadium 3,500 1969
Loyola Joseph J. Gentile Arena 4,486[9] 1996 Loyola Soccer Park 500 1996
Milwaukee U.S. Cellular Arena (men)
Klotsche Center (women)
Engelmann Field 2,200 1973
UIC UIC Pavilion 8,000 1982 Flames Field 1,000 1996
Valparaiso Athletics–Recreation Center 5,000 1984 Brown Field (men)
Eastgate Athletic Complex (women)
Wright State Nutter Center 10,449 1990 Alumni Field 1,000 1999
Youngstown State Beeghly Center 6,300 1972 Stambaugh Stadium 20,630 1982



In May 1978, DePaul University hosted a meeting with representatives from Bradley, Dayton, Detroit, Illinois State, Loyola, Air Force and Xavier in which all agreed in principle that a new athletic conference was needed. Further progress was made through a series of early 1979 meetings in San Francisco, Chicago, and St. Louis that included participation by Butler, Creighton, Marquette and Oral Roberts. On June 16, 1979, the Midwestern City Conference (nicknamed the MCC or Midwestern City 6) was formed by charter members Butler, Evansville, Loyola, Oklahoma City, Oral Roberts and Xavier, with Detroit joining later that same year.[10]


In 1980 the league established its headquarters in Champaign, Illinois. The MCC gained an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship in 1981, followed by the announcement that St. Louis University would be joining the following season. The University of Notre Dame joined the conference for all sports except basketball and football in 1982. The conference attained automatic qualification for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 1984, and the conference moved its headquarters to Indianapolis. In 1985, the name was altered slightly to Midwestern Collegiate Conference. At that time, the conference brought women's athletics into the fold, which triggered Notre Dame's withdrawal from the league in protest while Oklahoma City dropped out of the NCAA altogether. ESPN began televising the MCC Championship game in 1986, and in 1987 Oral Roberts left the conference while Dayton joined and Notre Dame rejoined. In 1989, the conference received its first at-large bid to the men's basketball tournament and automatic qualification to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. The conference won an automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship in 1991, and the conference lost members Marquette and St. Louis. Duquesne and La Salle joined the MCC in 1992, the same year the conference gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. Duquesne and Dayton left the conference in 1993.


In 1994, six Mid-Continent Conference members, Cleveland State, Northern Illinois, UIC, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Wright State left to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, which remains today the largest non-merger conference expansion in NCAA history.[11][12] With Evansville's departure to the Missouri Valley Conference, there were 12 league members. Xavier, Notre Dame, and La Salle withdrew the following summer of 1995, followed by Northern Illinois in 1997. The conference changed its name to the Horizon League on June 4, 2001, in part due to the acronym causing confusion between the MCC and the Mid-Continent Conference (which also used the acronym). That year, Youngstown State University came to the Horizon League from the Mid-Con, and on May 17, 2006, Valparaiso University announced it would do the same in 2007.[13] As of 2007, seven of the ten Horizon League members are former members of the Mid-Con (now known as The Summit League). In addition, five former members are currently in the Atlantic 10 conference

Horizon League Network

Horizon League Network
Horizon League logo.png
The HLN logo
Format College Sports
Created by Horizon League
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes Internet
Running time 180 minutes or until game ends
Original channel Syndicated
Picture format 480i
Original airing 2006

In 2006, the conference launched Horizon League Network (HLN) as the centerpiece of a revamped web portal.[14] In partnership with The CBS College Sports Network, the broadband network airs over 200 live events for free on the League's official website. Events include regular season basketball games, tournament matches, archived championships, The Horizon League Report, and other programming from the array of athletics the league sponsors. Its coverage complements events televised on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and members' local sports networks.

The Horizon League and WebStream Productions launched a completely redesigned Horizon League Network [6] website in September 2009. The site, which can be found at www.HorizonLeagueNetwork.tv, serves as a portal to hundreds of live and on-demand videos while giving its users the ability to interact on an array of social media platforms.

Men's basketball

Horizon League Men's Basketball Tournament Champions


From 1995 to 2011, the Horizon League has sent 24 teams to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Those clubs have produced 22 wins in those 14 years, including five "Sweet 16" appearances, making the Horizon League the only non-BCS conference with Sweet 16 participants in at least five of the last nine tournaments (2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 & 2011). Four schools from the conference have produced "modern-day" Sweet 16 appearances - Loyola (1985), Xavier (1990), Butler (2003, 2007, 2010, and 2011), and Milwaukee (2005). The Horizon League has compiled a 15-8 record in the past five years in the NCAA tournament, ranking tops among all NCAA Division-I conferences for winning percentage in that span. Butler appeared in the 2010 and the 2011 Men's Basketball National Championship game. Since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979, Loyola's 4 seed in the 1985 tournament is the best for a Horizon League team. The Horizon League currently holds the best winning percentage among non-BCS conferences in the men's NCAA basketball Tournament (.488, 7th overall amongst the 31 Division I conferences), and is the only non-BCS conferences with Sweet 16 teams in five of the last nine years.[15]

Although not Horizon League members at the time, two current Horizon League members claim national championships. In the 1963 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, Loyola defeated two-time defending champ Cincinnati. Before post-season tournaments determined champions, Butler claimed national titles in 1924 and 1929.[16]

The League hosted the men's Final Four in 1991, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2009, and 2010. It also hosted the women's Final Four in 2005 and 2007. Horizon League commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone, who is in his 17th year as league commissioner, just finished a five-year term on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee.[17]


As stated on their official website, the recent success of Horizon League athletic teams on the national stage heightened the visibility of the league and its member schools, and quickly moved it closer toward its stated goal of becoming one of the nation's top 10 Division I NCAA athletic conferences.


In the 2003 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, the Horizon League entered two teams for the first time since 1998. Milwaukee, who earned a 12 seed in its first bid to the tournament since joining the conference, lost by one point to Notre Dame in the first round. Butler, who gained an at-large bid and also received a 12 seed, made their fifth tournament appearance in seven years. The Bulldogs made it to the Sweet 16 with victories over #20 (5 seed) Mississippi State and #14 (4 seed) Louisville before they fell to #3 (1 seed) Oklahoma in the East Regional. The Bulldogs finished the year ranked #21 in the final ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll.


In the men's 2005 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Horizon League enjoyed one of its best showings ever as 12 seed Milwaukee marched to the Sweet 16 with victories over #19 (5 seed) Alabama and #7 (4 seed) Boston College before they fell to then-#1 and eventual tournament runner-up Illinois. Milwaukee ranked as high as #23 in the March 7 ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll.[18]


In the 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament, 11 seed Milwaukee once again advanced in the Tournament by upsetting the #20 (6 seed) Oklahoma 82-74. The Panthers, led by first year Head Coach Rob Jeter, fell to eventual national champion #11 (AP)/#10 (ESPN) (3 seed) Florida in the second round of the tournament. For the second straight year and third time in the last four years, the league had a team advance past the first round.


In the 2006-2007 basketball season, Butler won the Preseason NIT tournament in Madison Square Garden with wins over in-state rivals Notre Dame and Indiana in the NIT's Midwest regional bracket, followed by wins over #21 Tennessee and #23 Gonzaga in the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden. Later, the Bulldogs claimed victory over Purdue in the Wooden Tradition. On February 5, 2007, Butler became the first school in Horizon League history to be ranked in the Top 10 of the national college basketball polls, as the Bulldogs reached No. 9 and No. 10 in the EPSN/USA Today and AP polls, respectively.[19] The Bulldogs ended their season with a #21 ranking in the final AP poll, a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and a Sweet 16 berth by beating Old Dominion and Maryland before losing to eventual national champion Florida. Wright State also qualified for the NCAA tournament as the winner of the Horizon League Tournament Championship and tying Butler for the regular season championship. As a 14 seed, the Raiders fell to #13 (AP)/#11 (ESPN) (3 seed) Pittsburgh in the first round.


During the 2007-2008 basketball season, Butler won the Great Alaska Shootout with wins over Michigan, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech, and also claimed wins over Ohio State and Florida State, which extended their record against BCS schools to 10-1 since the beginning of the 2006-07 season. As a 7 seed in the 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Bulldogs beat 10 seed South Alabama before falling in overtime to #5 (AP)/#4 (ESPN) (2 seed) Tennessee. Butler finished the season ranked #11 in the AP poll and #14 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Also, Cleveland State earned a six seed in the NIT, losing in the first round to Dayton.


Starting in 2009, regional convenience store and gas station chain, Speedway, served as the title sponsor of the conference tournament, which Cleveland State won, which earned them the Horizon League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tourney while Butler University received an at-large bid. Butler, a 9 seed, lost in the first round to LSU while 13 seed Cleveland State upset #8 (AP)/#9 (ESPN) (4 seed) Wake Forest 84-69 (and achieved the third biggest upset in NCAA history winning by 15 points) and shocked the nation in the first round of play before falling to 12 seed Arizona in the second round of tournament play. Butler finished the season ranked #22 in the final AP poll and #25 in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.


After defeating #25 (12 seed) UTEP, 13 seed Murray State and #4 (1 seed) Syracuse, the #8 (ESPN)/#11 (AP) (5 seed) Butler men's team defeated #7 Kansas State, the 2 seed in the West, by a score of 63-56 to advance to their first Final Four. After beating the #12 (ESPN)/#13 (AP) (5 seed) Michigan State Spartans 50-52 in the national semifinals, Butler played in Indianapolis against the South Regional Champions, #3 (1 seed) Duke for the NCAA Division I National Championship. Butler lost was many are calling the most thrilling college basketball game in a generation, losing 61-59 in a game that came down to the final play. This is the farthest any team has reached in the tournament while a member of the Horizon League. Butler was the first team to play in the Final Four in its hometown since UCLA in 1972.

Also of note, former Milwaukee head coach, Bruce Pearl, coached the Tennessee Volunteers to the Elite Eight and narrowly lost the opportunity to play Butler by losing to Michigan State, who Butler beat in the Final Four.

Other sports

The Milwaukee baseball team made national headlines during the 1999 College World Series by upsetting #1 ranked Rice in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In the 2004-2005 academic year, Milwaukee's men's soccer team defeated 16th-ranked San Francisco, while Detroit upset Michigan in women's soccer in their respective NCAA tournaments. Also that year, Butler's men's cross country team finished fourth in the nation at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships, and their own Victoria Mitchell became the first Horizon League athlete to win an individual national title when she captured the 3,000 Meter Steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Green Bay also upset 6th-ranked Oregon State in the opening round of the NCAA softball tournament.

Although the league does not sponsor football, Youngstown State plays in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while Butler and Valparaiso play in the Pioneer League. Cleveland State currently does not have a football team but is considering launching a football program in the near future, giving the city of Cleveland its first division I college football team.[20][21]

Men's volleyball is also not sponsored, although Loyola competes in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2010 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2009 to FY 2010 (NACUBO), retrieved 2011-01-28.
  2. ^ University of Detroit Mercy - Best College - Education - US News (U.S. News), retrieved 2010-08-18.
  3. ^ University of Wisconsin -- Green Bay - Best College - Education - US News (U.S. News), retrieved 2010-08-18.
  4. ^ University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee - Best College - Education - US News (U.S. News), retrieved 2010-08-18.
  5. ^ University of Illinois--Chicago - Best College - Education - US News (U.S. News), retrieved 2010-08-18.
  6. ^ http://www.butlersports.com/information/facilities/hinkle_fieldhouse
  7. ^ Butler's building something -- but needs to tear down 'stepping stone' tag (CBS Sports), retrieved 2010-03-23
  8. ^ Pilgrimage: Hinkle Fieldhouse (ESPN), retrieved 2010-03-23
  9. ^ Loyola University Chicago Men's Basketball 2011-12 Quick Facts
  10. ^ Horizon League - Raise Your Sights
  11. ^ Horizon League - Raise Your Sights
  12. ^ http://www.mid-con.com/about/
  13. ^ Press Release. Valpo to Join Horizon League in 2007-2008 May 17, 2006.
  14. ^ HLN-Horizon League Network: Home
  15. ^ NCAA tournament records by conference, through 2006
  16. ^ Butler To Induct Seven Individuals, Two Teams Into Hall of Fame :: National championship basketball squads of 1924 and 1929 to become first teams enshrined
  17. ^ Player Bio: Jonathan B. LeCrone :: Genrel
  18. ^ 3-28-05 NCAA Division I Basketball Rankings
  19. ^ Butler barks its way to No. 9 spot in weekly ESPN/USA Today national poll, 10th in AP (Horizon League), retrieved 2010-03-31
  20. ^ Cleveland State Ballot Initiatives, (Cleveland State - Student Life - Board of Elections), retrieved 2010-06-19.
  21. ^ Cleveland State considers a new name and a new football team, (Cleveland.com), retrieved 2010-06-19.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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