A-10, CAA focus on scheduling decisions

May, 16, 2012
The Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association will have major scheduling decisions at their respective conference meetings in two weeks, brought about by VCU's sudden move to join the A-10 for this fall rather than waiting a year.

The Rams felt they essentially had no choice because of the CAA policy that a school leaving cannot compete for a conference championship in any sport.

Georgia State, which is leaving for the Sun Belt, chose to stay in the conference next season rather than bolt early.

A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said Wednesday that the league will likely stick with 16 league games for the 2012-13 season, despite having 15 teams for one season. Charlotte and Temple will be playing in the A-10 next season before they depart for Conference USA and the Big East, respectively. Butler will join the conference from the Horizon League as the 14th team in 2013-14.

McGlade said the league will discuss going to 18 games when Butler joins in 2013-14 in two weeks at the league meetings in Naples, Fla.

McGlade said how the league schedules the 16-game schedule with 15 teams next season will be discussed, with the most likely scenario playing two teams twice and everyone else once (six home and six away).

McGlade said the A-10 is in the final year of its television deal and will meet with its TV partners -- ESPN and CBS. The A-10 is in a much stronger position to craft a new, higher-rights deal with the additions of VCU and Butler. The league is losing the Charlotte market but will gain Indianapolis. And losing the Temple/Philly market won't matter since the league already had Philadelphia schools La Salle and Saint Joseph's.

"We really want to compete and be the best basketball-only conference," McGlade said. "We want to be really good at what we're good at. We'll start negotiating in the summer. Now we know who's in and who's out."

McGlade said she fully expects VCU to be a strong traveling team, including to Brooklyn for the A-10 tournament at the Barclays Center.

There are a few scheduling hiccups for VCU, however, as the Rams have to pick up an additional four games on the schedule. The CAA schedule was 18 games, while the A-10 will be 16. And the Rams also have to find two new nonconference games since they are dropping previously scheduled games against now A-10 members Richmond (road) and George Washington (home). Those schools will also have to find replacements.

VCU coach Shaka Smart said he will speak more on the matter Friday, but the Rams' addition has been welcomed. The only surprise was the timing.

"I was shocked," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "I was fully anticipating VCU coming, but didn't know [it would be] for next season. It's really exciting. It's a huge challenge for us all, not just VCU next year but then adding [Butler] the following year. We're a basketball-driven league, and this only strengthens us more."

Mack said it was logical to go with the scheduling plan mentioned above, but he's going to express his opposition to an 18-game schedule during the meetings.

"I'm not a fan, I'm just not," Mack said. "I know other conferences do it. But we want to continue to show Xavier will go out and play anybody. And if you have 18 games, then that's two less games you schedule on your own."

The good news for Xavier and the A-10 is that the addition of Butler and VCU means higher RPI games for the league, too.

Meanwhile, the CAA has to scramble with its scheduling issues.

Georgia State is still in the league. VCU is gone. Towson and UNC Wilmington aren't eligible for the conference tournament (like Georgia State) due to a poor APR score. But Towson coach Pat Skerry said the school is appealing the penalty and hopes to have a resolution soon. Towson is also putting together a proposal to move the conference tournament from Richmond to Baltimore. CAA commissioner Tom Yeager said the league has a deal with Richmond (VCU's home) through 2014.

George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor said scheduling shouldn't be an issue with 11 teams for 2012-13. He said the league will continue with the 18-game schedule.

Yeager said on Wednesday that is the plan. He added that if there are only eight teams in the conference tournament (no Towson, UNC Wilmington and Georgia State), the league would just play quarterfinals and move on from there.

"All we're doing is replacing one game on the schedule," O'Connor said. "Richmond has been good to us with ticket sales. We'll discuss where the best place to hold it will be."

Expansion will also come up at the CAA meetings in two weeks in Hilton Head, S.C.

Charleston and Davidson, from the Southern Conference, are expected to be at the top of the list, but there could be some buzz for Boston University and/or Stony Brook to tie in the Northeast teams in Hofstra and Northeastern, according to multiple sources.

O'Connor said the geographic footprint from Boston to Atlanta wasn't a defining issue. It's about finding the right fit.

The CAA took a body blow by losing VCU. Old Dominion is still weighing a possible move to C-USA if it wants to bump up football, but that's hardly a lock. But adding teams like Charleston or Davidson is a must to keep basketball at a high level.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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