5 years in Detroit; Commissioner sets goals for Horizon League


Matt Sexton

Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone visited Northern Kentucky University during the school’s basketball media day.

Matt Sexton, Sports Editor

With a new member school and a new partnership for its postseason basketball tournament, it’s been a busy few months for Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone.

LeCrone stopped by NKU’s basketball media day to discuss the Norse’s addition to the league and the league’s new tournament home in Detroit.

“It was an exciting year for us, last year, to work really hard on getting NKU into our league,” LeCrone said. “It was just the right fit at the right time for us. (NKU is) a really good travel partner for Wright State. We were at nine at the time, so it’s really helped our scheduling. We’re just thrilled to have Northern Kentucky.”

Expanding the league to ten teams was just part of LeCrone’s offseason. The Horizon League entered a partnership with Olympia Sports and Entertainment in Detroit.

The men’s Horizon League tournament will be in Detroit for the next five seasons, starting this season. It will start at Joe Louis Arena, and will move in year three to the new hockey arena in Detroit.

“There’s a huge redevelopment going on in Detroit, and that results in Joe Louis Arena being torn down in two years,” LeCrone said. “The Red Wings will move into a new arena which will be located in midtown Detroit. We have a five-year agreement to play our men’s tournament in Detroit. The first two years at Joe Louis, and then the next three years in the new Detroit Events Center.”

For LeCrone and the Horizon League, they relish the opportunity to see one of the venerable arenas out and welcome a state-of-the-art facility.

“We’re going to be the league that helps close down the ‘Joe’, one of the great and famous arenas of all time down on the river,” LeCrone said. “Then, we’ll be the first league tournament to play in the Detroit Events Center.”

Meanwhile, the women’s tournament will return to Green Bay for one more season before joining the men’s tournament for a combined event.

“We’re very happy to be going to Green Bay again,” LeCrone said. “What we’re really looking forward to is having them in Detroit. We’ll bring our women to Detroit in year two. We’ll have a men’s and women’s combined event for the next four years.”

LeCrone also touted the league’s relationship with ESPN.

“The other busy part of the year has been redeploying our digital content platform through ESPN3,” LeCrone said. “Northern Kentucky will come into a league where every single one of their men’s games, and their women’s games as well, will be televised in some form or fashion.”

When asked about the preseason men’s basketball poll that predicted a last-place finish for the Norse, LeCrone dismissed the poll results.

“Polls are polls, right?” LeCrone said. “I think what happens on polls is nobody really knows. It’s an absolute crap shoot. I don’t pay much attention to the polls. I know this – (NKU) will be really competitive in our league. It’s a league that has a nice amount of parity.”