Rao, VCU confirm the switch Tuesday
By Tommy Lopez
2:00 p.m. Tuesday May 15, 2012
VCU has been in the Colonial Athletic Association for 17 years. The university leaves a CAA that includes in-state opponents ODU, George Mason, William & Mary and James Madison.
After reports Monday that VCU decided to join the Atlantic 10 Conference for 2013-14, the school stated today that the move will take place for all sports beginning July 1, 2012. Beginning with the fall sports, VCU will play its conference games in the A-10.
“VCU believes the A-10 represents the best opportunity to meet our long-term aspirations for national academic and athletic achievement,” VCU President Michael Rao said. “As a Division I, nationally competitive athletics program, it is critical that VCU seizes the opportunity to further elevate its athletics as it raises its overall academic profile as a national research university.”
The departure from the CAA will cost VCU $250,000 and it will pay $700,000 to enter the A-10, bringing the total fees to $950,000. The school will also give up $5 million in revenue from the CAA for its men’s basketball NCAA Tournament runs in 2011 and 2012.
“The Atlantic 10 is a conference that gives us an opportunity to not only build our national brand, but also be associated with and compete against great institutions with tremendous profiles, both athletically and academically,” Interim Director of Athletics David Benedict said. “We believe that the transition to the A-10 allows us to enhance the experience of all of our student-athletes.”
Head men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart acknowledged the advantages in the league presents in basketball. “It is a phenomenal league, made up of programs with both rich traditions and recent track records of success,” Smart said. “We are very appreciative of the time we spent in the CAA, the experiences we had and the relationships we gained. We plan to maintain our key rivalries with CAA teams, now and in the future.”
CAA member Georgia State announced in April it will move to the Sun Belt Conference. Old Dominion is considering joining Conference USA which would upgrade its football program to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). George Mason stated last week it will stay in the CAA.
VCU joins Butler as the second recent addition to the Atlantic 10. However, Butler will move to the conference in 2013.
There will be 15 schools in the A-10 for this academic year, including cross-town rival Richmond, before two institutions leave in 2013-14. Temple will depart for the Big East and Charlotte will switch to Conference USA.
VCU joins the following schools in the A-10 this year: Duquesne (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Fordham (New York, N.Y.), George Washington (D.C.), La Salle (Philadelphia, Pa.), Massachusetts (Amherst, Mass.), Rhode Island (Kingston, R.I.), Richmond, Dayton (Dayton, Ohio), St. Bonaventure (Allegany, N.Y.), Saint Joseph’s (Philadelphia, Pa.), Saint Louis (St. Louis, Miss.), Temple (Philadelphia, Pa.), UNC Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) and Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio).
The Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament will take place March 14-17 in Brooklyn, N.Y. at Barclays Center which is the planned home of the Brooklyn Nets.
Rumors have circulated for weeks regarding VCU’s possible departure from the CAA. Proponents have cited increased television coverage in the A-10 and both the CAA’s lack of success in receiving at-large bids to the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament and the A-10’s success in doing so.
Drexel won 27 regular season games while recording a 19-game winning streak this past season but failed to make the NCAA Tournament. The A-10 has received multiple at-large bids each year for five consecutive seasons, including three this past season. Since Richmond left the CAA for the A-10 in 2001, the conference has received 18 at-large bids to the CAA’s four.