UIC officially welcomed to Missouri Valley Conference

Director of Athletics Michael Lipitz speaks during the January announcement of UIC joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
Director of Athletics Michael Lipitz speaks during the January announcement that UIC would join the Missouri Valley Conference.

The University of Illinois Chicago, having recently completed its 40th year of NCAA Division I competition, officially joins the Missouri Valley Conference, effective July 1.
The UIC Flames are now the MVC’s 12th member institution, entering the conference for the 2022-23 academic year alongside fellow newcomers Belmont University and Murray State University. The league’s existing membership includes three Illinois schools — Bradley University, Illinois State University and Southern Illinois University Carbondale — along with Drake University, University of Evansville, Indiana State University, Missouri State University, University of Northern Iowa and Valparaiso University.
Since earning Division I status in 1981, UIC has amassed 75 conference championships and made 47 NCAA postseason appearances. In addition, 20 Flames have achieved All-America status, 83 have earned recognition as Player of the Year and 55 coaches have been honored as Coach of the Year. Over the last five seasons, UIC men’s soccer, baseball, women’s tennis, softball and volleyball have all won conference titles, and four of the five programs have collected multiple championships and postseason bids. In 2020-21, the Flames were crowned the Horizon League’s Women’s All-Sport champions on the strength of conference titles in tennis and softball, as well as runnerup finishes in swimming and diving and volleyball.

UIC’s 300 student-athletes compete at an elite level in the classroom as well. The Flames recorded the best academic year in school history in 2020-21 with a 3.43 overall GPA. All 18 teams and nearly half of the department’s student-athletes earned Dean’s List recognition in spring 2021 by achieving a 3.5+ GPA. UIC also achieved an all-time best 91% Graduation Success Rate this past year.
Like its athletics program, UIC is an institution on the rise. Offering 100 bachelor’s degree programs across 16 top-ranked colleges, UIC is Chicago’s largest university and the city’s only public Carnegie Research I institution. With more than 34,000 students and 300,000 living alumni, UIC has recently been ranked a top-25 public university by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education. In addition, UIC has been recognized as a top-30 university for ethnic diversity and a top-10 university for social mobility by U.S. News & World Report.
The Missouri Valley Conference, founded in 1907, is a strong national brand with a rich tradition of success. The value of MVC membership is enhanced by robust media rights agreements with ESPN and CBS, as well as its sponsorship and multimedia rights partnership with Learfield.
Historically, Missouri Valley Conference members have won 15 national championships in the sports of men’s basketball, baseball, cross country and golf, while Southern Illinois also won an FCS football title in 1983. The conference boasts 73 individual national champions, as well as 17 additional non-NCAA collegiate titles. In 2021, multiple schools from The Valley received bids to the NCAA Tournaments in the sports of men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and softball, making it one of only eight conferences nationwide to do so.
The MVC is headquartered in St. Louis, a city that has hosted The State Farm MVC Men’s Basketball Championship (known as Arch Madness) for more than 30 consecutive years. Entering into its 116th year overall, the MVC sponsors 17 sports: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s golf, women’s tennis, softball and baseball.
The Valley is UIC’s third conference affiliation since becoming a member of NCAA Division I in 1981. Its first conference tie-in came in 1982, when it joined the Association of Mid-Continent Universities (AMCU-8). The AMCU-8 rebranded to the Mid-Continent Conference in 1990. In 1994, the Flames exited the Mid-Con for the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. That group reorganized as the Horizon League in 2001.

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