Oakland University announced this week they have formally accepted an invitation from the Horizon League, effective July 1 of this year. The Golden Grizzlies (based in Rochester, Michigan) will be departing the little-known Summit League in favor of the Horizon, providing them with reduced travel time, better recruiting options in Midwestern areas, and more competitive rivalries.
The Horizon League is currently home to eight schools: Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Illinois-Chicago, Valparaiso, Wright State and Youngstown State. A spot in the conference opened up earlier this year after Loyola (Ill.) jumped ship to the Missouri Valley Conference, filling a vacancy there when Creighton opted to join the reconfigured Big East.
Oakland has moved up the swimming ranks over the past three decades under renowned coach Pete Hovland, dominating the GLIAC for more than 20 years and winning four Division II men’s crowns before becoming a Division I school in 1997. Since then, the Grizzlies have owned the Mid-Continent Conference (members and champions for both men and women from 2000-2007) and the Summit League (men’s and women’s titles from 2008-present). All in all, the Grizzlies have been one of the more impressive mid-major teams in Division I; Hovland has had four men and three women qualify for the NCAA Championships in recent years.