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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Article supposes Oakland to Horizon League after Butler exit

Something Oakland fans and likely coaches and everyone associated with Oakland athletics has wanted for a long time could eventually come to reality, as Butler is rumored to be leaving the Horizon League in favor of the Atlantic 10. The move would open the doors for a new team in the Great Lakes-area league, which features teams in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
A recent story in the Green Bay Gazette hypothesizes Oakland could fill the vacancy, but goes great lengths to imply the Golden Grizzlies wouldn't have the same drawing power as the repeat Final Four contestant Bulldogs.
"Oakland has a solid program that has had its share of success in the Summit League, formerly the Mid-Con, but it won't put fans in the seats like Butler did. When the Bulldogs visited the other nine Horizon League schools, those schools regularly drew their biggest crowds of the season."
It's more than likely Oakland-Detroit games would sell out, at least for the first season. And with closer road trips, it's likely more fans would be inclined to follow their team to Youngstown State, than say North Dakota State.
We all know how much easier the travel would be for the Golden Grizzlies, who routinely make trips of 700 to more than 1,000 miles to play — in conference. Two of the farthest trips, Southern Utah and Oral Roberts, are both being scratched as the schools exit the conference, however. The travel savings to the athletic department would still be immense.
The Gazette supposes any new additions wouldn't make the Horizon any better than the league Oakland would be leaving.
"Whether it's Oakland and/or someone else, the minute the Horizon League loses Butler, it becomes no better than the Summit League, the conference it tried so hard to distance itself from."
It's long been rumored Detroit blocked Oakland from joining the Horizon League when membership was last available. The story mentions the Titans' veto power, but it's difficult to assume they would automatically block Oakland.
"It probably will add a school like Oakland (Mich.), unless Detroit has enough clout to block that."
As eager as fans seem to be about leaving the wide reaches of the Summit League, would men's basketball coach Greg Kampe want to leave a league the team has called home for nearly three decades?
"You never say never about something like that," he said when Oral Roberts announced it would be leaving the Summit League for the more regional Southland Conference after this season. He supposed the move was motivated at least in part by travel expenses.
"Oakland and our president will always do what they think is best for our university. Could that mean moving  leagues? Sure. Could that mean staying 20 more years? Sure. I don't know what's going to happen in the future."
Note the story mentioned above indicates no moves would be made until the 2013-14 season, so an official announcement won't happen until all the contracts are signed, and this is all predicated on Butler leaving the Horizon League and other league members approving a new member.


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