Oakland wants to fill Butler's spot in Horizon
By LARRY LAGE
DETROIT (AP) Oakland University wants to be in the Horizon League and hopes it isn't kept out by the University of Detroit - again.
"About 10 years ago, there was interest in us from the Horizon League and Detroit stopped it," Oakland coach Greg Kampe recalled. "I know that's a fact because I called the athletic director then, Brad Kinsman, and he told me."
Kinsman said Wednesday that Kampe's recollection is accurate.
"The feeling back then was that it didn't make sense to share this market with another school in the same conference," said Kinsman, who retired in 2006. "Times have changed, coaches have changed, but I don't know what the thinking is now."
Everyone is left to guess because Detroit officials declined comment on Oakland's interest in joining the Horizon.
It also isn't clear if the Horizon League wants the Golden Grizzlies to fill the void created last week when Butler announced plans to join the Atlantic 10.
Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone wouldn't comment on Oakland's public interest. Officials from the Summit League, which Oakland belongs to, also declined comment.
IUPUI and Robert Morris, in addition to Oakland, are also potential candidates to take Butler's spot during the 2013-14 season when the two-time national runner-up starts playing in the Atlantic 10.
"We're not going to play this out in the media," LeCrone said. "These are delicate matters and we want to handle this process with respect.
"If we decide to go beyond the number of nine schools, which is not absolutely necessary, we'll do it in a prudent and thoughtful way."
Kampe said he has talked to coaches in the Horizon League and all have been supportive of adding his program.
Has Kampe spoken to Detroit coach Ray McCallum about it?
"No, that is not a coach I've talked to about this," he said.
If the Horizon League expresses an interest in Oakland, athletic director Tracy Huth said he would reach out to Detroit officials.
The Golden Grizzlies have earned a bid in the NCAA three times since 2005, including twice in the last three years, from a league that forces them to travel to South Dakota State and Southern Utah. Geographically, it would make sense for a school based in Rochester, Mich., to play in a league filled with teams from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin - and a school about 20 miles to its south.
Kampe also thinks it would be a wise move for the Horizon League to add Oakland.
"I think we've proven ourselves," Kampe said. "If you look at the last two years, we'd rank in the top third in the Horizon in attendance and RPI. Basketball is the flagship of that league so I'd think we'd help keep their RPI consistent after they lose Butler.
"And from a travel standpoint, we're right in the middle of their footprint. Teams could play Detroit and us on a Thursday and Saturday and wouldn't even have to change hotels."
But the Titans still may not want to share the Motor City market with another school in the same conference.
Kampe, though, believes it would be a win-win deal.
"I think an Oakland-Detroit rivalry would be huge in southeast Michigan," he said. "When we played, there would be full houses, we'd be on the front page of the Detroit News and Free Press. There also would be television exposure that would help both schools and the Horizon. I don't see how it would be a negative for Detroit to have us in the same league."
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Updated May 9, 2012