VCU moves to the A-10

September 28, 2012

Online story by Zachary Holden
Video story by Scott Wyant
VCU InSight

RICHMOND, Va. — On May 15, Virginia Commonwealth University had some big news for the school and athletics program.

“I am very pleased to announce that Virginia Commonwealth University will join the Atlantic-10 conference,” said Michael Rao, VCU President, at a press conference.

This jump means an increase in the level of play in all sports, more recognition due to the A-10 being a larger conference than the Colonial Athletic Association, and a potential for more money coming in to the school.

The move did not come cheap, though. VCU had to pay the CAA $250,000 in order to leave the conference early, as well as pay the A-10 $700,000 to join. That’s nearly $1 million just to switch conferences. The school is also forfeiting almost $5 million from NCAA tournament prize money over the next six years had they stayed in the CAA.

Albeit these apparent losses, the potential gains for the university largely outweigh them. With Butler, another nationally recognized ‘mid-major’ university joining the A-10 along with VCU, as well as cross town rivals University of Richmond already a member, the jump to a new conference will only benefit the Rams.

Both men’s and women’s sports will benefit from this jump, be it through increased competition or more national recognition.

“Women’s soccer is really excited about the move to the A-10…it’s a very strong women’s soccer conference,” said Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, VCU women’s soccer coach. “I think it’s a good recruiting tool [too].”

Basketball, however, will gain the most it is expected. Since 2000, the CAA has received four at-large NCAA bids (invitations to the tournament without winning your conference). The A-10 on the other hand, has received twenty.

The increased likelihood of VCU making it into the postseason in all sports will have a positive impact. National recognition is the goal of the university right now.

“We want that national brand,” said Vic Cegles, director of the Ram Athletic fund. “It’s crucial, and I think the A-10 move will help that.”