The Butler Bulldogs will leave the Horizon League and join the Atlantic 10 for the 2012-13 season, the school announced Tuesday. The Bulldogs had originally been scheduled to make the move in 2013-14.
Butler joins the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, formerly a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, in making the move to the A-10 this fall.
The move will cover all Butler athletic programs except football, which will remain in the Pioneer League, and women’s golf. The Atlantic 10 does not host women’s golf, so the Bulldogs will look to another conference for that sport.
Butler had an established reputation of success in men’s basketball before 2010, having appeared in the NCAA tournament eight times between 1997 and 2009. That reputation ascended to a completely different level when the Bulldogs came within one shot of defeating the Duke Blue Devils in the 2010 national championship game. Remarkably, they repeated the feat in 2011, falling to the Connecticut Huskies in the season’s final game.
Given the extreme level of recent success, many felt that the program had outgrown its home in the Horizon League. Take Butler out of the equation and the conference has not had a team seeded better than 11th since 1998. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, earned seeds of 8, 5, 9, 7 and 5 from 2007 to 2011.
For the A-10, this news means that it will be replacing the Temple Owls and Charlotte 49ers – which are leaving for the Big East and Conference USA, respectively – with a pair of programs that each made the Final Four in 2011. VCU lost to Butler in the ’11 national semifinals.