It wasn't that long ago I thought the Summit League was heading towards extinction.
Two summers ago, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) announced it was leaving the league and joining the Horizon League, who's conference office is located in Indianapolis. It was a move that made all the sense in the world geographically, as the Jaguars were joining a league where a majority of the schools is a bus trip, which was not the case in the Summit League.
Last week, the conference announced that the league was adding the University of Missouri Kansas City for the 2020-21 school year. The Kangaroos make a return to the league that they left in 2013 after 20 years in the conference. UMKC has spent the last six years in the Western Athletic Conference with little to no success. The men's basketball team figured there was an easier path to the NCAA Tournament, but the furthest they reached was the conference semifinals.
UMKC's return to the league is something I've been calling for for a couple of years and provides some much needed stability for the conference. With the Kangaroos return and Augustana's pending move to Division 1, the league would stand at 11 schools, the most it's had since 2006, before North Dakota State joined the conference. That number may not last long as there have been rumors for several years that Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW) wants in on the Horizon League. That makes plenty of sense since the Mastodons closest rival is now Western Illinois, and Macomb, Illinois is six hours away from Fort Wayne.
Let's imagine a Summit League without Fort Wayne. The league then would exist completely in the midwest and just two time zones (the league is three right now). The conference would have ten teams, an ideal number for a couple of reasons, scheduling (the conference can return to Thursdays and Saturdays for games and no more dreadful games on Wednesdays and Sundays) and travel partners would be even. Pair North Dakota State with North Dakota. South Dakota State with Augustana. South Dakota with Omaha. Kansas City goes with Western Illinois and Denver pairs with Oral Roberts. That's a solid league.
I have been pleading for a couple of years for the Summit League to be proactive and go grab some some schools that make geographic and competitive sense. It appears the league was listening. Extinction is being held off...for now.