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What now for the Summit League?

Taking a look at some options following IUPUI’s departure

NCAA Basketball: Air Force at Denver Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Summit League is the latest conference to fall victim to the the perils of conference realignment following IUPUI’s departure for the Horizon League. The move is effective starting July 1, leaving the conference with only eight teams.

For the Summit League, the move comes too late in the calendar for the conference to vet and add another team before the upcoming season, so they’ll likely have to stand pat. Nonetheless, it’s possible that the league will look to replace IUPUI in the near future, so let’s take a look at a few options.

Do nothing at all

Unlike most conferences that lose a team to realignment, the Summit League has the luxury of already bringing in a team of their own. Starting in the 2018-19 season, North Dakota will leave the Big Sky and join the Summit League. The league can simply play out this season with eight teams and go back to operating with nine teams when North Dakota joins the following season.

Rekindle an old flame

Getting back together with your ex is almost always a bad idea, but it could be a viable option for the Summit League if it does in fact want to add another team. Bringing UMKC back into the mix would be one of the most sensible options geographically, and would allow the ‘Roos to escape the tumultuous WAC. UMKC wouldn’t move the needle much, if at all, when it comes to the on court product, but could provide the league with a familiar face that fits nicely on the conference’s map.

Big Sky, hello

As the league continues to push its footprint west across the plains, it could look to the Big Sky again for more members. Schools like Montana or Weber State would provide the Summit League with options that have found success in recent years without stretching the geographic boundaries too much. The problem with that is it increases the travel burden on schools like Fort Wayne (which was considered for the Horizon League) or Western Illinois. The conference has to be careful not too spread itself too thin across the country.



In all seriousness, Grand Canyon isn’t as far-fetched of an idea as one might think. We reported last week that Grand Canyon at least had conversations with the Horizon League about joining, but those talks never came to fruition. The appeal of the Lopes is real. They can provide a large TV market, have one of the hottest up-and-coming programs around, and oh yeah, money. If the Summit League is looking to make a splashy addition, it should look at adding the for-profit university, geography be damned.