More than 200 athletes at the University of Illinois Chicago are being barred from participating in conference championship events.
The decision comes from their conference, the Horizon League, after UIC announced it’ll be leaving the league and joining the Missouri Valley Conference next year.
All of this as some championships are set to begin in just a week.
“We invest so much of our lives into the sport and the majority of the time we are working towards rings—that is why we work to compete at a high level,” said Tiana Jackson, president of UIC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and a senior who plays on the women’s basketball team. “And to have that taken away, it’s unimaginable to do that to student athletes.”
According to a statement from the Horizon League:
When UIC announced its intent to leave the Horizon League at the end of the 2021-22 season, UIC chose not to comply with the League’s Bylaw requiring that written notice of such intention must be received on or before July 1 one year before the withdrawal date. In this instance, UIC needed to provide notice before July 1, 2022, and remain a member until July 1, 2023, to be in compliance with League Bylaws and preserve 2022 championship opportunities for UIC teams.
However, Michael Lipitz, the director of athletics at the University of Illinois Chicago, said the league “can’t hide behind its bylaws.” He said that the league has the purview to take “whatever action it deems appropriate with respect to the party member.”
Lipitz also pointed out that the timing of the national conference realignment isn’t in UIC’s hands. The opportunity to join the Missouri Valley Conference was presented in January.
The change isn’t exactly set-in-stone, however. with The Horizon League presidents have the ability to change the decision, he added.
“It’s unjust and all student athletes across the world are infuriated by the decisions that these conferences are making,” Jackson said.