OMAHA The possibility exists WSU played Creighton in a Missouri Valley Conference regular-season game for the final time Sunday.
Last week’s reports on the future of the Big East set off a round of panic and speculation, even though they didn’t break much new ground. According to a roster of anonymous sources, Creighton remains a candidate to join the seven Catholic schools who are taking the Big East name and reforming the conference with basketball-only schools.
ESPN.com reported Xavier and Butler will join and Creighton is a likely 10th team, perhaps by 2013-14. The New York Post reported the same three schools will join for next season, with Dayton and Saint Louis joining in 2014-15. CBSsports.com reports the conference might go with nine, with Creighton, Saint Louis, Dayton, Richmond and VCU under consideration should that number rise.
Creighton officials, according to the Omaha World-Herald, declined comment.
In Omaha, the mood borders on giddy at the prospect of schools such as Marquette and Georgetown visiting.
“Welcome to Big East country, Wichita State. Technically, it’s still Missouri Valley country,” World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel wrote. “Just call it the Big Valley for now.”
The MVC has been stable since Tulsa’s departure in 1996. Evansville, the most recent addition, joined in 1994. The new-look Big East, minus schools such as Connecticut and Cincinnati, would damage at least two conferences with its renovation.
The Valley would take a major hit by losing one of its most prominent men’s basketball programs, as well as upper-level women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball. Creighton’s men’s soccer program won its 12th Valley title last fall and played in the College Cup, soccer’s version of the Final Four.
The Atlantic 10 faces even more trouble, potentially losing as many as five members. Xavier is the conference’s marquee member. Butler is in its first season as a member after leaving the Horizon League.
When reporters asked WSU coach Gregg Marshall about the situation, he replied Creighton hadn’t asked his advice. That sums up the impotence of MVC officials and the nine other schools.
"Most people at my level would tell you, never have you felt so helpless,” a Missouri Valley Conference athletic director, speaking anonymously, told USA Today. “You just wait. We’re just sitting here wondering if Creighton goes, which of the 26 schools in our footprint that make some sense should we be pursuing. You just have no idea what tomorrow is like because you don’t have any control of it."
Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton, repeating his thoughts since rumors of Creighton’s departure surfaced, called a the Bluejays a great partner, a great member of the MVC and said he is monitoring the situation.
USA Today called Valparaiso, Oakland and Oral Roberts candidates to replace Creighton.
Turner, a senior, is one of 49 athletes selected for the program, which will feature coaches lecturing on hiring, recruiting, rules and lifestyle. Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is one of the scheduled speakers.
The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association organizes the class. Participants must be a senior and nominated by their coach.
The highlight is a visit from Nebraska on the evening of April 20. WSU plays in F.A.S.T. Complex Spring College Tournament in Houston on March 23. Defending NCAA champion Texas, Houston, Rice, LSU, Baylor, Texas Tech, SMU, Tulane and Texas A&M are among the schools in the field.
On March 30, WSU, Kansas and Colorado State will meet in Colby for a day of practice and scrimmages. On April 6, the Shockers play at Texas in a noon match televised on the Longhorn Network.