UMKC, which announced last month it was leaving the Summit League for the Western Athletic Conference, is on a list of schools Missouri Valley Conference officials plan to visit this week for membership consideration, The Star has learned.
The others: Valparaiso, Loyola (Chicago) and University of Illinois-Chicago, all members of the Horizon League.
The St. Louis-based Missouri Valley looks to replace Creighton, which announced earlier this month it was leaving the league to join the new Big East.
UMKC athletic director Tim Hall said in a statement Monday that the Kangaroos remain excited about their future in the WAC.
“First and foremost, we are extremely excited about our future with the Western Athletic Conference," Hall said. "During this time in college athletics, conference realignment is a major topic, and every conference must continually conduct research to evaluate the situation that gives it the best chance to be successful. The Missouri Valley is an excellent and highly respected conference, but UMKC remains committed to the WAC.”
UMKC has made some major changes recently, hiring Louisville assistant Kareem Richardson as head coach to replace Matt Brown and going forward with plans to move its home games from on-campus Swinney Rec to Municipal Auditorium in downtown.
The Kangaroos also changed leagues with its switch to the WAC for next year, where it will join schools spread from Seattle to California to Texas. Missouri Valley schools are located in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
With Creighton's departure, the Missouri Valley lost a school based in the Western side of the league, and UMKC's location could make the Kangaroos an attractive candidate. Little historical success — UMKC hasn't played in a tournament outside of the conference event since becoming a Division I program in 1987 — could be a drawback.
The Chicago schools and Valparaiso, located about 45 miles from Chicago, have deeper basketball heritage and are located in or near one of the nation's most fertile recruiting areas.
The Missouri Valley, which will be represented in this weekend's Final Four by Wichita State, would like to have a new member in place by July 1.