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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.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Horizon League commish: We haven't talked to anyone about joining yet

The day Oakland fans have longed for possibly came a little closer Wednesday, as Butler promptly informed the Horizon League it would be leaving. Conference commissioner Jon LeCrone addressed the media via teleconference from New York, where he indicated the league hasn't yet contacted any potential new members.
Oakland, IUPUI and Robert Morris have all been rumored as possible candidates to replace Butler in the Horizon League.
LeCrone seemed adamant the conference won't rush to a decision to add any members and pointed out the league has operated as an odd-numbered conference, as it would have nine members after Butler departs after next season.
"Although difficult, it was possible to do," he said. 
Where Oakland fans may be intrigued, LeCrone confirmed the veto power of conference members. It has long been rumored conference member University of Detroit vetoed Oakland's acceptance into the conference in 2007.
LeCrone said blocking power extends 25 miles from a member institution and a unanimous vote from the conference's other members can overrule the exclusion. He also noted the league's board can amend the rules at any time.
The conference also has a 5,000-seat arena pre-requisite, which LeCrone noted has been waived in the past. Oakland's O'rena seats roughly 3,000 for a sellout and nearly 1,000 more at standing-room only.
"We don't want to get confined to seats," LeCrone said of the search for new members.
LeCrone declined to specify the cost of the Horizon League's exit clause. He also added the conference's headquarters will remain in Indianapolis.
At several times, LeCrone noted the conference will rely on its principles and values while searching for a new member, while lamenting the big conference expansion sweeping the college landscape.
"We have an aggressive growth agenda which has been in the planning stages for some time," LeCrone said in a statement prior to the conference call. "That agenda is values based, collaborative, measured, informed and principled."
LeCrone was not specific about a time frame for the conference to extend membership, but made it clear the league would be doing its due diligence in the search. 
Listen to Wednesday's teleconference below. It begins shortly after the three-minute mark.

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