First VCU, now George Mason. The two mid-majors that made stunning runs to the Final Four from the Colonial Athletic Association will reunite in the Atlantic 10.
George Mason is joining the A-10 as of July 1, an official with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Sunday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because both the school and the conference plan to announce the move Monday.
It's the latest domino to fall in a series of interconnected moves that have altered the shape of conferences, both major and mid-major, across the country. The basketball schools forming a reconstituted Big East have taken taking two — Butler and Xavier — from the A-10, so the A-10 is adding a program that gained prominence with its Final Four run in 2006.
George Mason was one of the founding members of the CAA — even back when it was previously known as the ECAC South in the 1980s — but the conference has fallen on difficult times in the past year. Virginia Commonwealth, a Final Four team from the CAA in 2011, just played its first season in the A-10, and both Old Dominion (Conference USA) and Georgia State (Sun Belt) are departing in July.
The men's conference basketball tournament this month had only seven teams because the outgoing schools were banned, while two others — Towson and North Carolina-Wilmington — were academically ineligible. No longer with a strong Virginia base of schools, the CAA is taking the tournament to Baltimore next year.
The CAA is welcoming College of Charleston as a new member next season — giving the conference nine members for 2013-14. Albany and Stony Brook will be new members of CAA Football, an enterprise that operates separately from the conference's other sports.
Meanwhile, the A-10 has been faring well despite the ongoing struggle to keep schools that are tempted to move up to the higher profile leagues. VCU, Saint Louis, Butler, La Salle and Temple made the conference a perfect 6-0 in the NCAA men's tournament through Friday's games, although only La Salle had a chance to survive the weekend as of early Sunday evening.
George Mason's move gives the A-10 two schools in the Washington, D.C., market, creating a local conference rivalry with George Washington.
The Patriots men's team is 19-14 this season and will host Houston on Monday in the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational. The women's team is looking for a new coach after Jeri Porter resigned following a 9-21 season.
Reached by phone, CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said Sunday night he would have no comment. A spokeswoman for George Mason said the university would not comment until the official announcement Monday.