UW-Milwaukee is engaged in discussions about joining the Missouri Valley Conference, sources confirmed to the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday.
Additionally, the sources confirmed that officials from the Missouri Valley are scheduled to visit UWMâs campus and meet with school administrators later this week.
UWM has been a member of the Horizon LeagueÂ since the 1994-’95 season, when it was known as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
The Missouri Valley is seeking to add at least one member school beginning in the 2017-â18 academic year with Wichita State leaving to join the American Athletic Conference. It is believed to be considering adding as many as three teams, which would increase its membership from 10 to 12.
According to various reports, fellow Horizon League member Valparaiso also is under consideration, along with Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference and Nebraska Omaha of the Summit League. Those schools have either already hosted Missouri Valley officials or are scheduled to do so.
Itâs unclear at this point how a potential move would shake out. One possible scenario would be the Missouri Valley adding one school for the 2017-â18 academic year and then two more for 2018-â19. If that were the case, itâs likely UWM would be part of that second round of expansion in 2018-â19 should it get the nod.
UWM athletic director Amanda Braun referred all questions regarding a potential move to Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin.
“The Valley has always been resilient and progressive in the face of these changes, and we have never been defined by a single institution,” the league said in a statement earlier this month after it was announced Wichita State would be leaving.
Even being considered as a possibility for the Missouri Valley is a big change in outlook for UWM. There was significant public outcry just over 13 months ago when Braun didnât allow the menâs basketball program to participate in a postseason tournament despite a 20-win season, and then a week later fired coach Rob Jeter.
Jeter was replaced by University of Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan, and after losing their top three players to transfer the Panthers finished 11-24 overall and 4-14 in the Horizon League. Average attendance at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena was just 1,561, but the team played only four non-conference home games and one of those was against Division III MSOE.
Despite being undersized and lacking experience, the Panthers played hard for Jordan. They saved their best basketball for the postseason, upsetting three higher seeds and advancing to the Horizon League tournament title game before losing to Northern Kentucky.
A 10th-seeded team had never before won even one game in the 10-team tournament, let alone three.
UWM has won four Horizon League regular-season men’s basketball championships (2004-â06 and…