The Va. Commonwealth Rams made it official today that they will join the Atlantic 10 conference effective July 1, 2012. They will be participating in the Atlantic 10 in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year. VCU president Michael Rao spoke at a press conference that lasted only about 15 minutes to address why they are accelerating their plans to join the conference.
The Atlantic 10 has premier universities across the board and that includes athletics. The ability to recruit and retain student athletes will be sufficiently enhanced because of this move.
This move does come with a price however, the cost for joining the Atlantic 10 will be a hefty $700,000 dollars. For some universities that's not much, but for VCU that's a big price to pay. Rao and those in the athletic department hope that new revenue from the Atlantic 10 will help offset that cost.
Rao also took time during the press conference to address the conference they are leaving in the Colonial Athletic Association.
We have the utmost respect of Tom Yeager and his leadership team as well as the other institutions of CAA.
The move leaves the CAA in flux. The Old Dominion Monarchs have been rumored to possibly be leaving the conference to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013. So if those two leave the CAA the George Mason Patriots would not have as much competition and the conference would be much weaker.
Even more discouraging for Mason fans is the report from CBS Sports via the GMUHoops.com blog that the Patriots were passed over for the Rams, despite being in a larger media market and also having a close rival in the George Washington Colonials.