Virginia Commonwealth officially announced Tuesday afternoon that it will be leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to become a member of the Atlantic 10 on July 1, 2012.
“VCU believes the A-10 represents the best opportunity to meet our long-term aspirations for national academic and athletic achievement,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “As a Division I, nationally competitive athletics program, it is critical that VCU seizes the opportunity to further elevate its athletics as it raises its overall academic profile as a national research university.”
Though the move is being made for all sports, basketball was almost certainly the driving force behind VCU’s decision to leave. The Rams are leaving behind a conference which has received just four at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament since 2000 for one that has received 20 over the same period of time.
“It is my privilege to be able to announce the addition of VCU to the Atlantic 10 Conference. It is an institution rich in tradition, academic excellence and broad-based athletic success,” said Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “One of the driving forces and priorities of the A-10 is to further enhance our national prominence in men’s basketball, build our brand and strengthen our current footprint. In addition to bringing in well-rounded sports programs across the board, VCU solidifies the A-10 academically and athletically.”
The move means the A-10 will be replacing Temple and Charlotte – which are leaving for the Big East and Conference USA, respectively – with a pair of programs that each made the Final Four in 2011. Butler, which lost in the national title game in both 2010 and 2011, will be joining the Atlantic 10 in the fall of 2013.
VCU has been a member of the CAA for the past 17 years.