Sports Column | Todd Hefferman: Elgin will be missed | Salukimania

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I can’t imagine the Valley without him, and even though the MVC Presidents Council has a year to find his replacement, I struggle to see how they’ll find an improvement.

The longest-tenured commissioner in a multi-sport Division I conference in the country, Elgin came to the Valley in 1988. He expected to stay only a couple of years, but helped the league find a niche as a mid-major basketball powerhouse. Their teams won 10 straight first-round games in the NCAA Tournament between 2012-18, almost unheard of for a mid-major, and before that, five teams seeded 12 or worse at the Big Dance won.

After adding Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Evansville in the 1990s and merging the league with the women’s sports’ Gateway Conference in 1992, Elgin’s biggest accomplishment was actually moving the Valley’s biggest event off member schools’ campuses.

The Valley moved the men’s tournament from campus sites to the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis in 1991. It moved to the St. Louis Arena from 1992-94 and what was known as the Savvis Center in 1995 (it’s since been named the Scottrade Center and now the Enterprise Center). The men’s tournament celebrated its 30th straight event in St. Louis in March.

Elgin helped move the women’s tournament to a neutral site in 2008, to St. Charles, Missouri, when most major women’s basketball tournaments were being held at campus sites. The event moved to the iWireless Center (now known as the TaxSlayer Center) in Moline in 2016, where it has thrived.

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