Conference realignment may be picking up once again. On Sunday, CBS Sports’ Brett McMurphy reported that informal discussions were taking place between VCU, George Mason, and the Atlantic 10 conference for a possible move in 2013. VCU and Mason, of course, have both made the final four in the [admittedly infrequent] years that the CAA has received multiple bids to the NCAA tournament. Adding to the fodder was Duquesne’s president, after firing coach Ron Everhart:
Duquesne president Charles J. Dougherty mentioned the A-10′s plans for expansion in an email he sent to his board of trustees explaining his decision to fire basketball coach Ron Everhart. The email was obtained by CBSSports.com. “The A10 conference itself is on the verge of a major improvement with the addition of new high quality university programs,” Dougherty wrote. “All of this amounts to an exciting professional opportunity for a new coach.”
On Wednesday, news broke that Georgia State was in discussions with the Sun Belt conferencel. The move would be primarily motivated by GSU’s football program, which since its inception has been thought of as leverage for GSU to move to an FBS-participating conference. A move, reported by McMurphy, would come as early as 2013.
The Sun Belt is strongly considering extending an invitation to Georgia State and the parties have had informal discussions. An invitation could occur in the coming weeks with Georgia State a possibility to be added to the league as early as 2013, sources said.
While Georgia State would compress the conference’s geographic spread, the loss of VCU and Mason on the basketball side would be seismic shifts for competitiveness in the league. Adding to the unease is the sense that Old Dominion and James Madison are beefing up football programs, aiming at the FBS. While most of the discussion is conjecture and speculation, it’s a fascinating glimpse at conference realignment which is still unfolding. Mike Litos, as always, has a calm and reasoned discussion about why a move from VCU and Mason won’t come for at least another few months.
Hockey got a dose of realignment talk on Wednesday as well. UConn, which had recently hired a consultant to evaluate its hockey program, is reportedly applying to become Hockey East’s 12th team in 2013, as reported by College Hockey News:
Connecticut is believed to be the first choice among a large majority of the conference’s athletic directors. It is a natural fit because it is a state school in New England, a la Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Mass.-Lowell and Vermont. And Connecticut’s women’s program currently plays in Hockey East.
A 12th team would move the number of conference game to 22 (teams would play each other twice each season), increasing the non-league games by 5. UConn’s main hurdle is its arena: they currently play at the small Frietas Ice Forum, which holds less than 2,000 spectators, inadequate for Hockey East’s arena standards.