Mar 25 / Rob

GMU and VCU Reportedly in Talks to Join A10

According to reports that emerged over the weekend, VCU and George Mason could soon be on their way out of the CAA. Along with Butler, the two schools are already in discussions with the Atlantic 10 about joining the conference. Ruh-roh. Losing these schools would not be good for the CAA. Not good at all.

When I first heard of these potential moves, I assumed Mason and VCU were as good as gone. It seemed like a complete no-brainer. Both schools have unquestionably developed into very successful hoops programs and find themselves caught in a conference that appears to be driven by football at times. Neither school fields a football team and a move to the A10 would align them with schools sharing common athletic goals. Mainly, it would group them a bunch of other basketball first schools that aren’t flight risks if football conferences come calling. Schools like Xavier, St. Louis, St. Joseph’s, and St. Bonaventure have athletic programs driven by basketball. The CAA’s basketball profile has been on the rise for years, but it’s still a couple football moves away from erasing all the progress it’s made. If ODU, JMU, or Delaware make a jump for a better football set-up, the dominoes could start falling in a way that crushes the CAA. And that is a very real risk for GMU and VCU. Plus, while both the Rams and Patriots have gotten at large bids to the NCAA tourney in recent years, the A10 is a perennial multi-bid league.

After some more reflection however, I’m not sure it’s as much of a no-brainer as I originally thought. The A10 is a stronger basketball league top to bottom. As much as I love CAA hoops and think it is still underrated, it could be tougher for VCU and GMU to replicate their success in the A10. And VCU might get cold feet if it looks across town at its former CAA rival Richmond. The Spiders made the jump in the 90s and I’m not sure they’re better off for it. They’ve had some good years, but they’re not at the level of Xavier or other top A10 programs. VCU and Mason might be more comfortable sticking around in the CAA, a league they know they can win in any given year. But the risk of sticking around and being left behind for football, might force their hand. However you look at it, losing both programs would be a major blow to the CAA. It would likely force JMU’s hand and get them moving to find other football centered schools to align themselves with.


9 Comments

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  1. Dukie95 / Mar 26 2012

    Yes, this could be very bad…at least JMU and ODU probably have options that could put them in a better situation, football-wise.

    W&M will be the ones holding the bag.

  2. 2004 Duke / Mar 26 2012

    I think this sounds fantastic. We could either:
    A) Start a football-only conference
    B) Avoid being the CAA doormat if the good teams leave
    C) Move up to a more significant conference ourselves and gut and re-re-re-rebuild our basketball program (for real this time).

  3. GoDukes / Mar 26 2012

    GMU and VCU need to do what’s best for them as JMU and ODU have other plans that will not be in their best interests. I predict both JMU and ODU will be bolting to an FBS conference “real soon” and would have left GMU and VCU in the dust. So, now, GMU and VCU are needing self preservation. You can’t blame them.

  4. hi / Mar 26 2012

    I don’t blame them at all, especially with schools like JMU, ODU, UD and GSU talking about moving up to FBS and leaving the CAA. The transition will occur for them eventually, it will just be easier for them since they don’t need to worry about football.

    Umass is leaving the A10 this year anyway, isn’t it? Or is that just for football

  5. Rob / Mar 26 2012

    I completely agree GoDukes. Schools need to look out for themselves here. While I’d be disappointed if VCU and GMU left, I wouldn’t blame them if they did.

  6. A-Ron / Mar 26 2012

    I hope JMU will take advantage of the opportunity of losing two of the powerhouses of this conference. I was 11 or 12 the last time they went to the NCAA Tournament. I’d probably spontaneously combust if it were to ever happen again.

  7. Ramblin Man / Mar 26 2012

    VCU will not look at crosstown rival University of Richmond and wonder about their ability to compete in the A10. The Rams have consistently beaten the Spiders over the past 10 years or so under several different coaches. (They play each other every year, alternating between the Robins Center and Siegel Center). They have no reason to compare themselves with U of R. They know they have the best basketball coach and an excellent program – they are on record saying the CAA offers the best basketball in Virginia, which includes two ACC teams.

    Most importantly, under Coach Smart the Rams actually expect to beat every team they play. VCU is fearless and they do not worry about other programs.

    VCU has consistently beaten the Spiders over the past 10 years or so under several different coaches. (They play each other every year, alternating between the Robins Center and Siegel Center). They have no reason to compare themselves with U of R.

  8. Todd / Mar 27 2012

    A friend of mine in Richmond says that VCU had been talking about starting a football program. They’d even held talks with the city about where to play. This move would almost certainly mean they’d have to postpone or even cancel those plans, assuming they exist. I get why Mason doesn’t play football, with the startup expenses and needing to either repurpose land or even buy it in the DC real estate market, but why not VCU?

  9. hi / Mar 27 2012

    I think it would be hard for any school in Virginia to start up a D1/FBS program simply because of the status quo of UVA/VT monopolizing the demand for college football. VCU and Mason are obvious choices because of their school/metro area population, but walk around campus or drive around the city and see how many VT/UVA shirts VCU students are wearing. It’s already ingrained in the culture that if you want college football you follow one of those two schools.

    I remember JMU students who went to the JMU/VT game wearing VT gear and supporting VT during the game. How sad is that? You’re rooting against the school you’re paying tuition toward. It’s even more pronounced in states like Ohio. That kind of culture change is nearly impossible to penetrate

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