The Colonial Athletic Association apparently will be spared, at least for a year, the splintering that many believed would occur this spring.
Multiple sources directly involved with realignment discussions said Saturday afternoon that VCU athletic director Norwood Teague on Monday will recommend to university Michael Rao that the Rams remain in the CAA at least through the 2012-13 academic year.
Teague has resigned to become Minnesota’s athletic director, effective July 1.
VCU and George Mason have been pondering an immedate move to the Atlantic 10 that would have left the CAA without two of its basketball bell cows. The Patriots reached the Final Four in 2006 and advanced one round in 2011; the Rams made the Final Four in 2011 and advanced one round this past season.
It is unclear how VCU’s decision will affect George Mason’s.
If, as expected, Rao follows Teague’s recommendation, Old Dominion officials will ponder their reaction. The Monarchs are the CAA’s other basketball staple, but a CAA without VCU and Mason would have bordered on untenable for ODU.
Monarchs athletic director Wood Selig is so concerned about the CAA’s future that he inquired of possible membership in Conference USA, a move that would require a premature upgrade to the Bowl Subdivision for the school’s fledgling football program.
If ODU received an invitation from Conference USA, would VCU’s decision sway the Monarchs to decline?
CAA commissioner Tom Yeager said Saturday he could not confirm Teague’s recommendation.
“I’m waiting to hear like everyone else,” said Yeager, who Friday conducted a conference call with the CAA’s 12 athletic directors.
Asked if he were more confident in the league’s stability than a week ago, Yeager said, “I’ve always thought we were viable,” he said. “But I’m paid to think that way.”
Yeager has served as commissioner throughout the CAA’s 28 years.
The Newport News-based Atlantic 10 has courted VCU, George Mason and the Horizon League’s Butler – the Bulldogs reached the national championship game in 2010 and ’11 – in an effort to strengthen an already solid basketball conference led by Xavier, Richmond and Dayton.
The A-10’s basketball history – the league has earned 28 at-large NCAA tournament bids in the last 15 years to the CAA’s four – was attractive to VCU and George Mason. But bubbling unrest in the Big East gives VCU pause.
The worry is Big East basketball schools such as Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul and Marquette could break away from the conference’s Football Bowl Subdivision faction. Were that to transpire, the theory goes, the A-10’s Xavier and Dayton might jump to the Big East, making the A-10 less attractive.
Adding to the uncertainty, the Big East basketball schools’ decision may hinge on whether Louisville moves to the Big 12. If the basketball-centric Cardinals, two-time national champions, bailed, the Big East’s traditional basketball schools might be less-inclined to tolerate incoming new members such as Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida.
The Big East needs to finalize its membership as soon as possible since it’s scheduled to begin renegotiating its television contracts this fall.
Furthering the intrigue: VCU could lose approximately $750,000-$1 million annually for six years in lost Final Four income by leaving the CAA.
Given all those moving parts, Teague decided to call time out. VCU can revisit the issue next year, if the Atlantic 10 offer remains.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including last Sunday’s on how the CAA is worth saving.