CHICAGO – About a week-and-a-half, the Horizon League has decided to change course when it comes to their decision on UIC athletics.
The conference officially reversed the ban on Flames’ teams and athletes taking part in conference tournaments, immediately restoring them for Winter and Spring sports for the rest of the academic year.
Originally, UIC teams were banned from Horizon League postseason play due to a conference bylaw that states a team must give one year’s notice before leaving in order to keep their teams in the tournaments. The Flames announced in January that they would be leaving for the Missouri Valley Conference starting with the 2022-2023 academic year.
UIC sent a letter to the conference on Sunday asking them to reconsider their decision and offered some concessions, including not hosting any championships the rest of the year even if they were to qualify to do so.
The Horizon League officially decided to accept the Flames’ request for a waiver of the bylaw that initially banned them from conference tournament competition. By getting this reversal, all Flames winter sports will get to take part in Horizon League Tournaments, including Swimming and Diving, which will start on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
“It’s excitement, it’s excitement,” said Lipitz of the decision on WGN News Now on Tuesday, thanking the Horizon League for reconsidering. “This is how our student-athletes always expected to finish this year.”
You can watch Lipitz’s entire discussion on the decision in the video above.
On February 8th, the league denied a request by UIC for an exemption, triggering some negative reaction to the decision from the Flames themselves and others. On Tuesday, the conference reversed their decision on the ban yet remained critical of the school in a statement released following their action.
“I credit our League’s Board of Directors for prioritizing UIC’s student-athletes despite UIC leaders’ continued actions regarding their move to another conference,” said Commissioner Julie Roe Lach in a statement posted on the Horizon League website. “The response from UIC leaders has been disappointing, disingenuous, and inconsistent with our League values. At the end of the day, our League’s Board of Directors realized that UIC leaders were not going to take any action to restore eligibility for their student-athletes – including by making a simple request to the Missouri Valley Conference to enter in 2023.
“So our Board chose to exercise their authority to grant the student-athletes an exception to the agreed-upon bylaw.”
The full statement from the Horizon League can be read by clicking here.