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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.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Could theoretical move to 'Catholic 7' by Detroit clear way for Oakland to Horizon League?

Today, in "As College Sports Conferences Turn," the latest supposition comes from The Washington Post, whose Josh Feinstein attempts to fill the remaining spots in the so-called "Catholic 7" formed by basketball schools leaving the Big East.
Butler, which caused a flurry of Oakland-related speculation last May when it bolted from the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10 could be at the center of the latest swarm of talk. Then again, it could be Detroit itself causing the shift.
Feinstein supposes the aptly-named "Catholic 7" solicit membership among like-minded schools, making an exception for Butler, a private institution but not Catholic. But if Butler should decline, an invite could be extended to current Horizon League member Detroit.
"If Butler decides not to leave the Atlantic 10 — which it joined only this season — or if the presidents decide to go with Catholic schools only, the University of Detroit Mercy would come into the picture."
A "Titanic" departure by Detroit would knock the conference down to just eight teams, dangerously close to the threshold to maintain its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. 
The Horizon has been deliberate in its search, or lack thereof, for possible replacements for Butler. Oakland and Summit League mate IUPUI have been theorized as possible substitutes.
Oakland coach Greg Kampe told The Oakland Press in a December live chat the Horizon had not contacted Oakland about membership, seven months after Butler's exit.
"Oakland University has never been contacted by the Horizon League. They have very smart people running the league and there's a reason their league has been successful.
"The Horizon League is going to do what's best for the Horizon League. No more than that. They're going to put in their due diligence. We're not going to do anything to jeopardize our standing in the Summit League."
Meanwhile, the Summit has added Denver in 2013-14, while recently learning it will lose UMKC after this season.
Oakland has made no secret of its desire to enter the Horizon and the long-rumored snub by conference member Detroit was put on record shortly after Butler's departure.
It seems like, if Detroit was to ever leave the Horizon, the conference would want to maintain its Detroit-area footprint and Oakland would quickly accept metatarsal appointment. There would be no more "Detroit veto" and Oakland would likely be able to come up with the cash to part ways with the Summit, which it joined (and won) when it moved up to Division I competition in 1999-2000.
Kampe also mentioned in the live chat that the stalemate in scheduling a rematch with Detroit, which Oakland hasn't played since 2003-04, was again at a standstill.
"My email lit up a few weeks ago when Ray McCallum said they'd be interested in playing us," Kampe said then. "They haven't called us since that statement. I've made yearly calls for several years. It's only going to happen if we end up the same league someday.
"We'll play them. I'll change my schedule. It's a game that should be play. Fans want to see it. It's economically smart, too."
Like the conference alignment rumors before it, the latest round of speculation is anybody's guess.


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