News that Butler will join the A-10 brought headlines around the country. The Horizon League’s search for a new member is somewhat less compelling to many on the national scene, but there’s plenty of drama going on.
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies, currently of the Summit League, would like to take Butler’s place. Paul Kampe (no relation to Oakland coach Greg Kampe, as he always notes) of the Oakland Press has been following the saga, and has dug up some interesting facts about the history between the Golden Grizzlies and current Horizon members the Detroit Titans.
According to a May 10 article in the Press, the Horizon League contacted Oakland about joining as far back as 2002. At that time, Coach Kampe told reporters, Detroit blocked the move. To his credit, Brad Kinsman, Detroit’s AD at the time, admitted his part in the earlier brouhaha.
“The feeling back then was that it didn’t make sense to share this market with another school in the same conference,” Kinsman told a reporter. “Times have changed, coaches have changed, but I don’t know what the thinking is now.”
Oakland U. is, in fact, just 30 miles north of the Detroit Mercy campus. Then again, these days, a league like the Horizon needs as many strong programs as it can possibly get, andbasic cohesiveness in the service of continued existence may trump petty concerns about markets and sharing. Heck, with so many natural geographical rivalries being blown up by realignment, it might be kind of nice to get a new one nailed down. The perceived slight from 2002 could propel a nice amount of in-conference anomie if and when the Horizon does snap up the Golden Griz.