Report: George Mason & VCU to Join Atlantic 10 on May 1, 2012
When the Atlantic 10 learned it has lost it’s keystone program, Temple, to the Big East, in 2013, the conference knew it needed to do something bold to replace them. But sometimes, when losing a school of so much importance, a single addition isn’t enough. So what’s better than adding Butler, a 2 year final game participant? Also adding George Mason and VCU, two other recent Final Four representatives in recent years.
Per Lenn Robbins of the NY Post, George Mason and VCU will be announcing they will be joining the Atlantic 10 on May 1st, with Butler expected to join as well.
The move would line up the Atlantic 10 as the premiere non-football sponsoring conference in the NCAA for the sport of basketball.
At a time when conferences are making moves to improve football, others like the Big East making football moves just to preserve the sport, the A10 is taking another approach: adding the best basketball schools available in the region.
Butler is still expected to join the Atlantic 10 as the unofficial “replacement” for the departing Temple. Butler will serve as a geographic bridge to connect the two Ohio schools, Xavier and Dayton, with St. Louis. Butler will also give the Atlantic 10 access into the Indianapolis market, one that Butler has had success in gaining attention from for it’s program.
The additions of George Mason and VCU add two other Final Four schools to the A10.
But they also solidify the Atlantic 10 as a strong contender in the Washington D.C. and Virginia region. The conference recently moves it’s headquarters from Philadelphia to Newport News, VA. With current member Richmond being joined by VCU, the A10 will rival the ACC in Virginia, as both conferences now contain 2 of the top 4 basketball programs.
In the Washington D.C. area, George Washington, a top 10 school just a few years ago, will be joined by George Mason. The Big East with only Georgetown and the ACC with Maryland are the only powerful conference competitors in the region now.
The departures of GMU and VCU from the CAA will add to the continuing rebuilding that conference has undertaken. Over the past two years, the CAA has lost football only members UMass and URI, as well as the dropping of football by all-sports members Hofstra and Northeastern. Georgia St. announced last week that it will be leaving for the Sun Belt. When the CAA shelved their exit fee vote last week, it was apparent that some of the schools expected to give “yes” votes had potentially changed their minds. The vote was to raise the $250,000 fee to $1.2 million.
The Georgia St. departure from the CAA has forced the CAA to put an all-sports member sponsoring football at the top of the priority list as the conference needs 6 all-sports members to sponsor football in order to retain sponsorship. Stony Brook is considered the most likely candidate, assuming that Appalachian St. rejects and CAA invitations. If there is any pressure to add a southern based school, Coastal Carolina is the likely option.
With the departures of GMU and VCU, it could mean that the CAA tries to assist some of it’s members by adding travel partners. Boston University is a likely candidate to replace GMU/VCU as they would enable member schools to schedule 2 Boston games when having to travel north to play Northeastern. Charleston is another school on the wishlist, but they have twice rejected CAA overtures. Davidson is considered another option for the final spot once a football school is added. In total the CAA will look to add 3 schools.
Another CAA option now could be to make a push to solidify itself as the top FCS football conference by adding Appalachian St. and Georgia Southern for all sports, with a 3rd member added for non-football sports.