The Missouri Valley Conference enters its 104th year at the start of the 2010-11 academic year, and the nation’s second-oldest NCAA Division I conference continues to be a leader in college athletics. From its early beginning to its current standing on the map of college athletics, The Valley will always continue to be proactive in its approach.
The Valley continues to lead by example as one of college athletics’ most progressive conferences. The Valley emphasizes the importance of the student-athlete and is aggressive in its approach to provide opportunities for its member institutions.
Athletic accomplishments on the men’s athletics side include 10 national basketball championships, 16 trips to the NCAA Final Four, a 1989 national baseball championship and 19 College World Series qualifiers.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference enters its 26th season in 2011. In June 2008, presidents of the nine-member Gateway Football Conference and the 10-member Missouri Valley Conference approved a rebranding initiative that changed the football conference name from the Gateway Football Conference to the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The league competed as the Gateway Conference from 1985-2007.
Although the league will share the Missouri Valley name, the football-playing members will compete under a separate administrative umbrella, as the Missouri Valley Conference and the Missouri Valley Football Conference will remain separate entities.
Members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference (and initial year of membership) include Illinois State University (1985), Indiana State University (1986), Missouri State University (1985), North Dakota State University (2008), the University of Northern Iowa (1985), South Dakota State University (2008), Southern Illinois University (1985), Western Illinois University (1985), and Youngstown State University (1997).
Institutional Great — Cathy Boswell (2003)
Lifetime Achievement — Will Robinson (2003)
Lifetime Achievement — Jill Hutchison (2008)
Coaches Wing — John Coughlan (2009)
In 2001, Missouri State added to The Valley women’s accomplishments, as the Lady Bears advanced to the Women’s Basketball Final Four in St. Louis. Creighton (2004) and Missouri State (2005) have claimed national championships (WNIT) in women’s basketball, while MSU also has a 1992 NCAA Women’s Final Four appearance, and Creighton (2003), Drake (1999) and Illinois State (2009) have made semifinal trips to the WNIT postseason tournament.
Indeed, the inclusion of women’s programs under The Valley banner has provided a boost. The Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference — which began in 1982 — merged with the Missouri Valley Conference and was unveiled as part of the new conference on July 1, 1992.
And while the inclusion of women’s sports under a comprehensive athletic umbrella is a recent development in the league’s storied history, over the years, Valley student-athletes and coaches have become household names during the league’s illustrious history, both during their collegiate careers and, for some, professional careers.