CHICAGO (CBS) — UIC announced Jan. 25 that it was leaving the Horizon League for the Missouri Valley Conference next school year.
In response, the Horizon League went straight to their rulebook, citing conference rule 18.104.22.168, UIC Flames forfeit the privilege of participating in league championships. CBS 2’s Matt Zahn reported Tuesday night on the brawl on campus.
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It’s a tough day at UIC. All of their winter and spring sports teams have been banned from participating in conference championships. Of 18 conferences with exiting teams, like Loyola leaving the Missouri Valley, only three have gone the Horizon League route.
“We are amazed. We knew that was a possibility. But when you look across the country, 32 major sports conferences in the country, 18 have membership changes pending right now. Only three conferences nationally have chosen to take this kind of punitive action against their student-athletes. To make this a reality. It just seems heartless and really totally unnecessary,” said sporting director Michael Lipitz.
“They have been training their whole lives for this moment. And taking it away from them is not fair,” women’s basketball coach Tasha Pointer said.
“It’s every young boy and girl’s dream to play softball. they play tennis, basketball, etc. to step into an NCAA championship environment,” said men’s basketball coach Luke Yaklich.
UIC broke Horizon’s League statutes by not giving a year’s notice and the league has every right to do so, but as UIC sporting director Michael Lipitz said, they could also choose not to. It is the seniors that this news hits particularly hard.
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“It’s really, just heartbreaking. for swimmers and divers, it’s really the time when all of our hard work is really showcased in our Horizon League Championships, and really they’re just a week away. We were supposed to get on the bus next week on Tuesday. So it’s just the timing of everything. It’s really heartbreaking,” senior Cydney Liebenberg said.
“I just remember hearing the news and I just spoke to my team and my voice is shaking, I’m falling apart because this is it for me. It’s my last year. I was planning to go home to become a firefighter, so I was really looking to give it my all this year. And just to hear that, it’s people in power who are denying students that opportunity. Student-athletes get punished for that,” Cory Moore said. , senior.
Lipitz says the UIC is committed to fighting on behalf of its student-athletes and will do everything they can to have this decision overturned.
The Flames’ swimming and diving team has already started an online petition to be allowed to compete in the next conference championship — which begins a week from Wednesday.
It should be noted that the school paid the required exit fee and then requested a special waiver of this regulation which was denied.
That doesn’t normally happen, although the America East Conference did the same to Stony Brook and the Colonial Athletic Association to James Madison when they announced they were leaving those leagues at the end of the school year.
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