Horizon League reverses decision to ban Illinois-Chicago from postseason tournaments

The Horizon League is going to let the University of Illinois-Chicago participate in this season's postseason tournaments after all.

Six days after banning the school from postseason tournaments for the rest of the season as a punishment for leaving for the Missouri Valley Conference, the Horizon League reversed course Tuesday and said that UIC could compete.

In its statement announcing the reversal, the Horizon League attempted to blame the University of Illinois-Chicago for the ban and said that UIC administrators had been "disingenuous" regarding the school's pending move to the MVC this summer and said that UIC "provided no compelling or extraordinary circumstance for relief" from the postseason ban.

“I credit our League’s Board of Directors for prioritizing UIC’s student-athletes despite UIC leaders’ continued actions regarding their move to another conference,” Horizon League commissioner Julie Roe Lach said in a statement. “The response from UIC leaders has been disappointing, disingenuous, and inconsistent with our League values. At the end of the day, our League’s Board of Directors realized that UIC leaders were not going to take any action to restore eligibility for their student-athletes – including by making a simple request to the Missouri Valley Conference to enter in 2023. So our Board chose to exercise their authority to grant the student-athletes an exception to the agreed-upon bylaw.”

The Horizon League said a week ago that UIC had been barred from postseason competition because the school was leaving the conference without giving at least a school year's notice. The decision was announced with immediate effect and came as both the UIC men's and women's basketball teams had less than 10 games to go in their regular seasons.

As Lach's statement indirectly points out, the decision to ban UIC from postseason competition mainly affected the athletes at the school — the humans who were not in charge of the decision to switch conferences. Punishing athletes for the actions of administrators is petty and is antithetical to what the NCAA and its member schools say college athletics is all about.

At least the Horizon League recognized that pettiness within days and did something about it. For that, UIC should consider itself fortunate. Players at Stony Brook and James Madison are still banned from their conference's postseason competition because of their schools' decisions to switch conferences. The Colonial Athletic Association punished James Madison for moving to the Sun Belt this fall while the America East conference said earlier this month that Stony Brook would be ineligible for conference tournaments after the school said it was moving to the CAA.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: The Horizon League conference logo during the 2020 Horizon League Mens Basketball Championships championship game between the Northern Kentucky Norse and the UIC Flames on March 10, 2020 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, IN.(Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)