The Bishin Cutter wrote:
I don't necessarily disagree with the heart of the argument: GMU and VCU would be great additions to the A-10 and would be mutually beneficial for both the conference and respective programs. I just disagree that these teams should leave a conference that they helped to form and strengthen just because of market research and "a bottom line." There's a lot of history and unity between these programs, and some execute decisions differently than others. Diplomacy.
I disagree with this false sense of dread and urgency that any program should leave at the drop of a hat for fear of what might just become later on down the line.
I also disagree that VCU and GMU, both public schools, fit what the A-10 is or will be. They are in the minority, and would soon find themselves even further marginalized as public school members (I give UMass five or six more years in the A-10, tops) "move on" to follow their football budget. And the A-10 is really no different than CAA in having programs sponsoring football or not. There's no reason to believe a move from CAA to the A-10 now would be any more or less secure ten years from now if schools like Duquesne, URI, Richmond, Butler, Fordham, and Dayton take a more FBS-like philosophy on all-sports conferences.
The CAA isn't dead...yet. No need to leave it in the dust for the sake of self-preservation.
I appreciate some of your points, but disagree on some of the implications/insinuations.
To say GMU and VCU would be jumping ship because of "the bottom line" is disingenuous.
Take a look at Pacific for a second: They were the founder of the Big West and have carried the flag for that conference since UNLV and company left. They have history and unity in the Big West with the other members. Without Pacific as a northern presence, Davis wouldn't be in the conference when they came up from D-II. But when the WCC called, they didn't think twice. It's a matter of "Who are we?" and Pacific has always been a WCC school. They formed the Big West because the WCC didn't sponsor football (Pacific is essentially a founding member of the WCC, The Big West, AND the new guy in the WCC all at the same time). The Big West's reaction was "that's a great fit for them, we wish them well."
It isn't just a cash-grab for TV revenue between CAA and A-10. It's about similarity in athletic programs. The CAA is a tweener. It doesn't know if it's a football conference or a basketball conference. VCU and Mason are basketball schools. The A-10 is a basketball school. The CAA isn't a Southern or Virginia conference any more. It used to be with members in MD, VA and NC only. Then they added GA ST, Towson, Hofstra and Northeastern.
GMU and VCU doesn't know which direction the CAA is going to go in: Football or basketball.
That's not a sense of dread. A sense of dread over that would be if they had an invite from the MAAC. This is the A-10. Who can get on AVERAGE what the CAA has in at-large bids TOTAL in the last 18 years.
This isn't about MONEY, it's about NCAA Tournament access. And that's something you kind of owe to your student-athletes: The opportunity to compete for a championship as much as possible.
The fact that GMU and VCU are public and much of the A-10 is not isn't really a factor. Yes, there are public schools (and yes, UMass is pursuing FBS, you're right, they're not long for the league). But UMass also hasn't been an NCAA tournament team in hoops since the days of Marcus Camby.
There really isn't a public/private schism. The differences between public/private is tuition (recruiting) and roster size in non-revenue sports. URI and UMass are usually near the top of the Commission's Cup standings because they do well in the non-revenue spring sports. The power of the A-10 (Xavier, Dayton, Temple) focus on fall sports (volleyball and soccer).
What makes the A-10 good is a shared commitment. And that commitment is to basketball.
There is nothing more important in the A-10 than men's basketball.
The A-10 "football schools" consist of UMass (FBS aspirations), Richmond and URI (FCS), Dayton, Butler, and Duquesne (non-scholarship and Fordham (FCS). Only URI really has the ability to CONSIDER FBS football.
Dayton's athletics department is self-sustaining, with a budget of about $15 million. Their football program loses $2 million a season. Adding scholarship football would cost them $8 million a season (not counting the facilities needed).
Dayton plays in a "stadium" owned by Dayton Public Schools. The team doesn't even use the stadium's locker rooms they are so bad. Their locker room is in the basketball arena and they walk across the parking lot.
Their old AD did a study on dropping football and the only reason they didn't is because of the affect dropping football would have. They realized that 1/3 of their donor base was former football players or football season ticket holders and they didn't want to piss them off and have an Evansville situation (Where athletics donations dropped 25% and male applications dropped 40%). The AD tried to blackmail the president into having the University give athletics $1 million a year to keep football. He didn't bite. They are NOT going FBS. Not unless they suddenly go UCLA and make 14 straight Final Fours.
Butler and Duquesne are in the exact same boat as UD. Old football stadiums that do the job for games.
Fordham plays men's basketball in the oldest gym in the country. They can't drop $50 million on a new basketball arena, but they could build an FBS worthy football stadium? Not happening.
The A-10 are BASKETBALL SCHOOLS. George Mason and VCU are BASKETBALL SCHOOLS. That's what makes it a perfect fit. That's why the A-10 is interested in them and not, say, Coastal Carolina or Austin Peay.