In the ever-evolving world of conference realignment in college sports, Loyola is the latest to make a move. The Chicago school announced Friday that it will join the Missouri Valley next season. The Ramblers are leaving the Horizon League, with which it became affiliated in 1979 as the then-Midwestern City Conference, to replace Creighton in the MVC. Creighton is hopping over to the new Big East. "I think our brand will raise the profile of the institution and the fact that we're in the Chicago marketplace is going to do wonders for the Missouri Valley," Missouri Valley commissioner Doug Elgin said. Loyola will become the fourth school from the state in the Missouri Valley, joining Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Bradley. Conference member Wichita State reached the Final Four this year. The Ramblers won a national championship in 1963 but haven't reached that level of success in the past few decades. Loyola last reached the NCAA Tournament in 1985 and finished 7-23 this past season. "The MVC has a great reputation and a strong competitive profile both in athletics and academics," Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, Loyola's president, said. "I believe this partnership with the Missouri Valley Conference will enhance our national visibility and have a positive impact on the experience of our student-athletes." Loyola has upgraded Gentile Arena, where it plays its home games, and recently hired WNBA MVP Sheryl Swoopes as its women's basketball coach in an attempt to upgrade its athletic programs and image. The Missouri Valley is the nation's second oldest conference behind the Big Ten.
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