RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – CBSSports.com reporter Brett McMurphy wrote Monday that Virginia Commonwealth University would leave the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and join at Atlantic 10 (A-10) Conference in 2013. McMurphy cited “industry sources.”
Sources told CBS 6 Sports Director Lane Casadonte an official announcement would come tomorrow.
Rob Washburn, CAA Associate Commissioner of Communications, said the conference has not heard from any VCU officials about a possible move.
The A-10 is currently made up of 14 universities, including the University of Richmond.
The A-10 is considered “multiple-bid” conference when it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament, meaning more than one university is routinely invited to participate. Last season four A-10 school played in the NCAA tournament (Saint Louis, Temple, St. Bonaventure, Xavier)
This past season VCU was the only CAA school to make the NCAA tournament. The CAA regular season champion, Drexel, was not invited.
On Monday, Sean Robertson caught up with acting athletic director David Benedict at the VCU Cap Tech Drive golf classic. When asked about the CBS Sports story, Benedict said only “I can’t comment on that at this time”, far short of the “flat denials” that former AD Norwood Teague issued the last time this story surfaced.
If VCU is switching to the A-10, they could be leaving millions of dollars behind. VCU has played in 11 NCAA tournament games since 2007, and each of those entitles them to a share of the revenue generated by the entire CAA conference. CAA bylaws say:
“A member institution that elects to withdraw its membership in the Association shall forfeit its share of revenue distributed by the Association effective upon its withdrawal announcement.”
Based on previous NCAA earnings, it’s estimated that VCU could be forfeiting anywhere between $3 million and $5 million by making this announcement.
Furthermore, the Rams could be excluded from next year’s CAA tournament and it’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. The Rams are reportedly not officially joining the A-10 until 2013, and should still play a CAA regular season schedule this year. But, their eligibility for next year’s CAA tournament at the Richmond Coliseum will depend on a vote of the remaining schools still in the league.
Back in 2001, CAA members Richmond, East Carolina and American all left the conference, and were not allowed to play for the conference tournament title.
“We respected the process George Mason University went through and are pleased it decided that continued membership in the CAA is in the best interest of the university and its athletic programs,” league commissioner Tom Yeager said in a statement released by the league office.
CBSSports.com reported another CAA school, Old Dominion University, is considering leaving the conference for Conference USA.
The CAA is based in Richmond and plays its end-of-season tournament at the Richmond Coliseum. The A-10 held its end 2012 end-of-season basketball tournament in Atlantic City, N.J.
Earlier this month the A-10 voted to accept Butler University into the conference. Butler will join the conference in 2013. Two days later Atlantic 10 Conference Commissioner Bernadette McGlade released the following statement regarding the University of North Carolina Charlotte leaving the A-10 for Conference USA.
“Charlotte has been a valued member of the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McGlade said. “The 49ers have a strong athletic program and the addition of football has opened different opportunities for their future. We are looking forward to their final year of competition in the Atlantic 10 and wish them success moving forward.”
Temple University is also leaving the A-10. The Owls will join the Big East conference in 2013.
This is a developing story. Monitor WTVR.com and CBS 6 News for updates.