The University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) will be the 12th school to join the Missouri Valley Conference, sources tell CBS Sports.
"It's a done deal," one source said.
The Missouri Valley's constitution and bylaws were reviewed in recent days by UIC officials, who have been sent a Memorandum of Understanding. UIC will join the Valley on July 1, 2022.
Valley representatives toured UIC's campus on Jan. 9 and were sure to move quickly on finishing up this round of expansion. UIC will join alongside Belmont and Murray State, which are leaving the OVC and accepted invitations in September and earlier this month, respectively.
The move is happening now because the Conference Commissioners Association has a meeting planned in Naples, Florida, for early February and the league, in part, wanted to formalize this in advance of that.
UIC has long coveted leaving the Horizon League for the Missouri Valley. With Loyola Chicago exiting to join the Atlantic 10, the swap made the most sense for the Valley's presidents in order to maintain a presence in the conference's largest media market of Chicago.
The decision also means the MVC will settle, at least for now, on 12 schools. Others that were considered included Kansas City, UT Arlington -- which was always an odd geographic fit and is now heading to the WAC instead -- and, to a lesser extent, Northern Kentucky.
UIC will be a big addition in terms of undergrads (approximately 34,000) and alumni (approximately 300,000 alumni in the greater Chicago area). It also has an athletics budget approaching $20 million, which immediately makes it competitive and in the upper echelon of the MVC. Sources told CBS Sports the school's diverse student body also played a part in winning the 12th invite; UIC's Black and Hispanic student population will, by far, be the most of any Valley school. It's the second-largest school in the state (Illinois being the largest) with 18 NCAA-sponsored sports.
"It certainly brings a different dimension to the profile of the league than it's ever had," one source previously told CBS Sports.
UIC has been a member of the Horizon League since that league formed in 2001. Prior to that it was in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference since 1994. The Flames have made the NCAA Tournament in men's basketball three times (1998, 2002, 2004).