Moving to Horizon: What it means for OU

Oakland University will join the Horizon League on July 1. We think it’s a fantastic move. 

Making the switch from the Summit League to the Horizon League means that the Golden Grizzlies will be competing against more local opponents and fans will finally have a chance to experience a real rivalry.

Of course, the cost of the transition isn’t cheap. It will cost $250,000 to exit the Summit League and $882,000 to join the Horizon League. 

The Horizon League also requires that its member arenas are able to seat at least 5,000 spectators. Unfortunately, the O’rena doesn’t fulfill these requirements, meaning we will either have to expand the O’rena or rent the Palace for some home games.

The Horizon League offers much tougher competition, as well. Pat Caputo, a columnist for The Oakland Press, put it best when he said “I viewed the Summit League as NCAA Division I’s version of plankton. It’s definitely at the bottom of the food chain.”

Naturally, there will be more competitive rivalries, reduced travel time and better recruitment opportunities.

As Oakland University Athletic Director Tracy Huth said “We really don’t see a downside to this.”

Gone are the days where the Golden Grizzlies didn’t have a local rival. Inevitably, there will be a spirited rivalry with the University of Detroit Mercy Titans.

This is great for both schools.

Let’s face it, Oakland students are mostly commuters who are severely lacking in the school spirit department. Having more local games is not only great because the teams will travel less, but the students will be much more likely to follow the team on the road. 

In fact, a simple Google search reveals that OU is only 32.5 miles away from UDM. That ends up being about a 35 minute drive, which is even shorter than the drive many of our commuters have.

OU basketball is scheduled to play UDM twice, which means that at least twice a year, there will be a game that the communities of Detroit and Rochester will actually want to get involved in. It’s the classic battle of city vs. suburbia.

According to ESPN, “Oakland has always wanted to join the Horizon League, but UDM was against the idea. Former Detroit athletic director Brad Kinsman acknowledged last year that his school didn’t want to share the Detroit market with another school in the same conference. He’s not sure if Detroit still feels the same.” 

That is enough to start a rivalry for some of our hot-blooded students. UDM didn’t want to share the Detroit area with another school? Perhaps they should change their name from the Titans to the Chickens.

As for the expenses to make the transition, OU is looking at spending roughly $1 million. OU has spent much more money on much worse. Traveling less will save money as well. 

OU won The Summit League men’s basketball tournament three times in six years, bringing in publicity and big money from the NCAA. Imagine what it will be like when we win in the Horizon League. It seems intimidating now, but the Golden Grizzlies have already made more NCAA appearances than most of the schools in the Horizon League.

In other words, the Golden Grizzlies aren’t going to be swimming with the sharks yet, but we’re at least expanding our… Horizons.