‘Don-ing’ of a new era; Mastodons officially join Horizon League

College Sports

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Mastodons officially have a new conference to call home – and one that makes a lot more sense geographically.

July 1, 2020 marked the day Purdue Fort Wayne became a member of the Horizon League after participating the Summit League since 2007.

The Dons announced their intentions to join the conference on August 6, 2019. Since then Robert Morris University has also been added to the conference, upping the total number of Horizon League members to 12.

The following is a press released from Purdue Fort Wayne’s athletic department:

“The Horizon League is a 12-member conference. Its members are Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, Green Bay, IUPUI, Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky, Oakland, Purdue Fort Wayne, Robert Morris, UIC, Wright State and Youngstown State. Robert Morris also joined the league on July 1, 2020.

Purdue Fort Wayne fields teams in 16 NCAA Division I sports and will sponsor 15 teams in the Horizon League: men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. The men’s volleyball program will continue to compete in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.

The Horizon League is comprised of 10 public and two private universities, and is going into its 42nd season of operation. The average population of its universities’ cities is nearly 484,000, with Fort Wayne’s coming in around 270,000. The league’s core values of “student-athlete well-being, integrity, respect, and stewardship” align well with Purdue Fort Wayne’s core values of “academic excellence, social responsibility, athletic intensity and wellness.” 

Purdue Fort Wayne is in the center of the Horizon League footprint. The average distance to league schools from Fort Wayne is 215 miles, with the longest trip (Green Bay) at 367 miles. The shortest trip for the Mastodons in the Summit League was 386 miles. All league championships apart from basketball and golf are hosted by league institutions, making them more drivable for fans to attend. The basketball championship is held in Indianapolis, the home to the Horizon League headquarters, while the golf championships are in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.

The Mastodon teams are very familiar with Horizon League competition, as the ‘Dons have played in head-to-head games with league schools nearly 1,000 times across all sports. The move will reignite conference rivalries with IUPUI and Oakland (Summit League), and Northern Kentucky (Great Lakes Valley Conference). All sports will look to have an immediate impact in Horizon League play and compete for championships.

The Horizon League started streaming events to ESPN networks in 2014, providing over 600 live events to ESPN3 and ESPN+ last season. Purdue Fort Wayne will stream select events to the ESPN networks in 2020-21.”

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