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But the move again places Virginia Commonwealth in the same league as city rival Richmond. The switch is expected to give a competitive and financial boost to the Rams’ program.

After the Rams magical run in the tournament, VCU gave Smart an eight-year contract that pays him an average of $1.21 million per year.

The Rams won the CAA tournament again this season, beat Wright State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament and came within a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer against Indiana of reaching the round of 16 again.

But the Rams were the only CAA school among the 68 teams invited to the tournament. Drexel, which had won 27 games and had a 19-game winning streak snapped in the championship, was relegated to the NIT.

That scenario is far less likely to happen to a runner-up in the Atlantic 10.

Since 2000, the A-10 has received 20 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament, the CAA just four.

The loss of one of its three best basketball programs comes as a big blow to the CAA, which last week won a reprieve when George Mason, another of the big three, announced it is staying.

Old Dominion, the other team considering a change in conference affiliation, has not yet announced its plans. The school’s board discussed the situation in a closed session Monday.