by Pete Medhurst

Virginia Commonwealth University has made a rapid climb from mid-major obscurity to a nationally known basketball entity over the past two seasons.

The Rams are hoping seize the opportunity to increase its visibility by joining the Atlantic-10 conference. VCU President Michael Rao Ph.D made the announcement today in Richmond.

“We look forward to resuming rivalries with some old friends, like the University of Richmond,” Rao said.

Both schools used to compete against each other as members of the Colonial Athletic Association.

“We appreciate every opportunity that we have been given by the CAA and we are pleased that we were major contributors to the CAA,” said Rao.

VCU joins George Washington as a member of the A-10 conference and will give the team 15 members for 2012-13. Temple will leave the league in 2013, while Butler will join in 2013.

VCU, which made a final four appearance in 2011, will not see any money from the CAA as a result of playing the NCAA Tournament.

“Those payments are made over a six-year period and under our by-laws, by leaving the league they havent received any money and will not receive any money,” CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said Tuesday on a conference call.

It leaves the CAA with eight members and questions in the future. The city of Richmond has the contract for the CAA Tournament through 2014. Does the city lose its luster for hosting without a local team involved? Do cities like Philadelphia and Washington have a chance to host now that the league has members from Boston to Wilmington, North Carolina? What kind of facility is needed to host a tournament that has had some issues with attendance in quarterfinal games over the past few seasons that VCU was not in?

UNCW and Towson are under the APR microscope as well. If they receive sanctions that would eliminate them from post-season play, what happens then?

The Seahawks have had two appeals turned down and will likely miss the 2013 CAA Tourney. Towson is still awaiting word from the NCAA on an appeal. With VCU leaving, it leaves the CAA with likely eight teams for the tournament next year.

A Sports Illustrated story noted that since 2001 when Richmond left the CAA, the A-10 has received 18 at-large NCAA bids while the CAA has just four.

Old Dominion, which has become a rising power in 1-AA football, qualifying for this post-season, has it’s eyes on bigger football prizes and has been considering Conference USA affiliation.


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