For a mid-major conference that has had two Final Four representatives since 2005, the Colonial Athletic Association is starting to feel the winds of change that have been blowing across the landscape of college athletics.
The league dodged a bullet when 2005 Final Four participant and founding member George Mason announced they would stay in the Colonial after exploring an option to move to the Atlantic 10. The league was barely able to breathe a sigh of relief when on May 15, Virginia Commonwealth announced to the Colonial Athletic Association that they were leaving the conference they have been affiliated with since 1995. Not only were they leaving, but they were leaving for the 2012-13 season instead of 2013-14 as originally thought.
The announcement gives the CAA a drastically looking basketball outlook not only this season, but going forward.
In addition to losing VCU for the upcoming season, North Carolina-Wilmington and Towson may be ineligible for postseason play due to not meeting the NCAA’s Academic Performance Rate standards. Georgia State is also ineligible due to their impending move to the Sun Belt in 2013.
As a result the 12-team league could be cut to as few as seven come tournament time, with GMU battling Drexel and Delaware atop the league in what will be the swan song for Old Dominion as they have been rumored to be exploring a move to Conference USA, a move that will become official today. Ultimately ODU may be subject to the same sanctions as Georgia State, barred from postseason play because of their intentions to leave.
So for a league that has been the poster child for mid major the conferences over the last 7-8 years, the CAA will have a vastly different look going forward. The question is, will they be able to sustain the same level of competitiveness people have come accustomed to?