Throughout the history of collegiate athletics there have been instances of schools moving from one conference to another, only to return to their original conference shortly thereafter. This had not happened in the recent wave of conference realignment, but that changed on Thursday as Oral Roberts announced that it will return to the Summit League in 2014.
ORU was a member of the Summit League for 15 seasons, from 1997 to 2012, before deciding to make the move to the Southland Conference with the idea being that the new home would help lower travel costs. But with the Southland growing to 14 members (and adding more football-playing members, a sport ORU doesn’t have), the powers that be at ORU felt that their goals regarding travel and cultivating new rivalries would be tougher to reach. Hence the move back to the Summit League, where their men’s soccer program has remained a member for the last two years.
“ORU is excited about returning to The Summit League and its distinguished member institutions,” ORU Director of Athletics Mike Carter said in the Summit League release. “We look forward to renewing the rivalries we developed during our 15 years in the conference and to continuing the proud tradition of The Summit League.”
ORU will join a conference that has some solid basketball programs in 2014. Denver made the move over from the WAC in July, joining solid programs such as North Dakota State and South Dakota State. In total the Summit League has eight members (IPFW, IUPUI, Omaha, South Dakota and Western Illinois being the other five), and in theory the return of ORU would mean a 16-game, true round-robin conference schedule.
During the school’s time in the Summit League ORU won six conference titles, including three straight from 2006-08.