Oakland University has accepted an invitation to join the Horizon League. Oakland will officially join the league on July 1, 2013, in time for the 2013-14 academic year. The university's board of trustees voted Tuesday to accept the invitation.
"Oakland University is the perfect fit at the perfect time for the Horizon League," said Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone. "They bring a well-respected and growing athletics program and we are adding a university that is aspirational. We look forward to working with President Gary Russi, Athletics Director Tracy Huth and his staff on behalf of the student-athletes. This is an exciting beginning to our external growth plan."
Oakland will compete in 18 of 19 Horizon League sports, the lone exception being men's tennis.
"Oakland University is pleased to be the newest member of the Horizon League," Russi said. "The universities in this conference are strong academically and they value the student-athlete experience. Oakland fits well with them and we look forward to being part of their tradition of excellence."
Russi said the move makes sense academically and financially. More than half of the Horizon League student-athletes have grade point averages of 3.2 or better and the League exceeds NCAA academic averages in 14 of the 19 sports it sponsors, including men's and women's basketball. In the most recent academic year, 29 League teams posted perfect NCAA Academic Progress Ratings scores and 33 squads were recognized by the NCAA for being in the top 10 academically in their respective sports.
"Moving to the Horizon allows us to associate and compete with institutions with outstanding academic profiles and values," said Huth. "They value the experience of the student-athlete. It also gives us the opportunity to play University of Detroit Mercy on a regular basis for some spirited Metro Detroit competition."
League competition will require less travel time due to closer proximity with a reduction in out-of-class time for our student-athletes. "Our student success in the classroom will never be compromised," Huth said.
"Joining the Horizon also increases Oakland's visibility within the major media markets in the Midwest, which means greater student recruitment opportunities," Russi said.
Russi thanked Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple and the schools in the Summit League for their support. Oakland joined the Summit League in 1997 and was in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference prior.