Richmond, VA (WWBT)- VCU will join the Atlantic 10 Conference in all sports effective July 1, 2012, VCU President Michael Rao announced Tuesday.
NBC12 sources confirmed the move Monday. Rao officially announced the decision at an afternoon press conference at the Siegel Center Tuesday.
"VCU believes the A-10 represents the best opportunity to meet our long-term aspirations for national academic and athletic achievement," said Rao. "As a Division I, nationally competitive athletics program, it is critical that VCU seizes the opportunity to further elevate its athletics as it raises its overall academic profile as a national research university."
The cost of departing the CAA appears steep initially, but Rao says that the move will be financially beneficial in the long term. The exit fee for the CAA is $250,000, and the Rams will pay a $700,000 entry fee to the Atlantic 10. Additionally, VCU will lose about $5 million from its Final Four run for exiting the conference, and Interim Athletics Director David Benedict believes that the cost of travel will increase by approximately $150,000.
A big reason VCU decided to make the move immediately surrounds the Rams' chances to participate in conference tournaments next school year. The CAA could potentially decide to prohibit them from playing in any league tournaments due to their decision to leave the conference.
VCU becomes the second CAA school to leave this year, joining Georgia State, who left for the Sun Belt conference. Old Dominion University is rumored to be considering leaving for Conference-USA.
The move will also turn cross-town rival Richmond into a conference rival as well. The Rams and Spiders will potentially play twice a year in basketball and could play a third time in conference tournament action. Spiders athletics director Jim Miller says that they encouraged VCU to look at the Atlantic 10 and helped them collect information on moving to the conference.
Butler recently announced it will also join the A-10, leaving the Horizon League.
George Mason University announced it was staying in the CAA Friday.
VCU will be the only addition the Atlantic 10 makes next year, as Butler will wait until 2013-2014 to join the conference. Temple and Charlotte will both depart the A10, but will remain in the conference until the 2013-2014 school year. Temple will leave for the Big East, while Charlotte will join Conference USA.
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