VCU to join Atlantic 10 conference in 2013

It’s being reported that later this week, VCU will announce that it will move to the Atlantic 10 conference beginning in 2013.

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CBS Sports is reporting that VCU will join the Atlantic 10 conference in 2013. While still unconfirmed by the university, industry sources are claiming that a formal announcement regarding the departure from the CAA will take place later this week.

A huge step up

In the era of conference realignment, the Atlantic 10 is emerging as a winner. Already the premier non-BCS basketball conference, the A10 boasts 20 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament since 2000. In 2012 the conference had seven teams finish with a top-100 RPI including Temple (22), St. Louis (28), and Xavier (38) while the CAA only boasted three teams. VCU led the CAA at #34 while Drexel (66) and George Mason (84) failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Atlantic 10 is full of basketball programs on the rise and while Temple is leaving to join the Big East, and Charlotte is headed to Conference USA, the addition of Butler and Virginia Commonwealth University leaves the Newport News based conference stronger than ever before.

For VCU the move offers increased attendance, revenue, television exposure, and a significantly stronger RPI (a key factor in choosing post-season teams). It also reunites VCU with crosstown rival University of Richmond and Final 4 opponent Butler.

There will undoubtedly be some transitional pains for the Rams. VCU will no longer be able to play its conference tournament in the comfortable confines of the Richmond Coliseum. The Atlantic 10′s tournament is moving from Atlantic City to the brand new $1 Billion Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, there are no “off nights” in the deep A10 because there are no “Towsons”. The move presents challenges, but it is consistant with VCU’s goal of being a perennial NCAA tournament team.

Left behind

Originally rumors surfaced that Butler, George Mason and VCU were all A10 bound. On Friday the GMU Patriots announced they were sticking with the CAA. According to the CBS Sports article, the Atlantic 10 only wanted to add two teams and Butler and VCU were chosen over George Mason.

Now VCU, Georgia State and potentially Old Dominion (Conference USA) are all bolting and George Mason is in trouble. The clock is ticking on the Patriots as they decide whether to jump ship and join another conference or stick with the CAA for the long haul. Either way it appears that VCU (2011) and Butler (2010, 2011) handled their post Final 4 business much more successfully than George Mason (2006).

Farewell tour

VCU has cemented itself as a perennial favorite in the CAA under Shaka Smart especially since the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Still Coach Smart has yet to win a CAA regular season title during his three seasons at the helm of the Black & Gold. The 2012-2013 CAA season is going to be an incredibly entertaining shoot-out between VCU, Drexel, and Delaware. Of course George Mason and Old Dominion will sport talented teams as they always do. So sit back, relax and enjoy VCU’s farewell tour.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning and barbecue sauce.

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