In 1979, representatives of butler university, the University of Evansville, Loyola University of Chicago, Xavier University, Oklahoma City University, and Oral Roberts University formed the Horizon League, then known as the Midwestern Cities Conference and known at one point as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC), to enhance the athletic reputations of the schools. The conference opened a part-time headquarters office in Champaign, Illinois, in 1980 and, in 1984, relocated to Indianapolis (where it remains) and hired its first full-time commissioner.

From its inception, the conference pursued national recognition through its flagship sport, men’s basketball. The MCC champion was guaranteed participation in the prestigious NCAA men’s basketball tournament beginning in 1983, and the conference and its Indianapolis member, Butler, also hosted the tournament finals in 1980 and 1991. Conference realignments across the nation affected the MCC in 1991 and 1993 as various schools departed for other conference affiliations.

The conference changed its name to the Horizon League in 2001 to avoid naming confusion with other conferences, and the group faced various school affiliation changes throughout the first years of the 21st century. Most significantly for Indianapolis, Butler University left the Horizon League for the Big East Conference in 2012 after appearances by its men’s basketball team in the NCAA Basketball finals in 2010 and 2011.

As of 2019, member schools include Detroit Mercy, Wright State, Cleveland State, Northern Kentucky, Oakland, Youngstown State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Illinois at Chicago, and (most notably for Indianapolis) indiana university-purdue university indianapolis. In addition, Purdue University Fort Wayne became a conference member in July 2020.

Revised June 2021

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