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Oakland University to join the Horizon League in July - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Oakland University to join the Horizon League in July

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Oakland University will join the Horizon League beginning with the 2013-2014 season, President Gary D. Russi announced today. In keeping with growth and enhancement plans outlined in Oakland's strategic vision for 2020, the move will apply to all of the university's athletic teams beginning July 1, 2013.

This has been a busy year implementing many key components of the strategic vision, including new degree programs, significant investment in a new engineering and computer science building, and extensive work on O'Dowd Hall.

Meanwhile, as faculty and students settled into the new Human Health Building, the university also hosted a groundbreaking for a student housing complex and Honors College. Both will enhance and evolve campus life, as well as help attract and retain academically strong students interested in enjoying it.

"Oakland University is pleased to be the newest member of the Horizon League," Russi said. "The universities in this conference are strong academically and they value the student-athlete experience. Oakland fits well with them and we look forward to being part of their tradition of excellence."

Russi said the move makes sense academically and financially. More than half of the Horizon League student-athletes have grade point averages of 3.2 or better, and the league exceeds NCAA academic averages in 14 of the 19 sports it sponsors, including men's and women's basketball. In the most recent academic year, 29 league teams posted perfect NCAA Academic Progress Ratings scores, and 33 squads were recognized by the NCAA for being in the top 10 academically in their respective sports.

"Moving to the Horizon allows us to associate and compete with institutions with outstanding academic profiles and values," Oakland Athletic Director Tracy Huth said. "They value the experience of the student-athlete. It also gives us the opportunity to play the University of Detroit Mercy Titans on a regular basis for some spirited Metro Detroit competition."

Competition will require less travel time due to closer proximity to universities in the league. This will mean a reduction in out-of-class time for student-athletes. "Our student success in the classroom will never be compromised," Huth said.

"Joining the Horizon also increases Oakland's visibility within the major media markets in the Midwest, which means greater student recruitment opportunities," Russi said.

"The Board of Trustees was pleased to approve this significant step in the university's evolution, as it provides opportunities for increased visibility across the Midwest with many stakeholders," said Michael R. Kramer, chair of the Oakland University Board of Trustees. "We are proud to assist Oakland University student-athletes in competing at a high level both on the field and in the classroom."

"Oakland University is the perfect fit at the perfect time for the Horizon League," said Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone. "They bring a well-respected and growing athletics program and we are adding a university that is aspirational. We look forward to working with President Gary Russi, Athletics Director Tracy Huth and his staff on behalf of the student-athletes. This is an exciting beginning to our external growth plan."

Russi thanked Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple and the schools in the Summit League for their support. Oakland joined the Summit League in 1997 and was in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference prior.

For more information about Oakland's athletic programs, view the website at ougrizzlies.com.
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