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Rhode Island Leaving CAA Football in 2012?
Rhode Island is studying a possible departure from Colonial Athletic Association Football, effective for the 2012 season.
The Rams may be bound for the Northeast Conference, a logical move considering geography, that league’s new automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, URI’s extended lack of success as a Colonial member, and the school’s budget concerns.
CAA Football, which includes the University of Richmond, William and Mary and James Madison, will add Old Dominion in 2011 and Georgia State in 2012. CAA members Northeastern and Hofstra announced following last season that they were immediately dropping football.
URI Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn could not be reached for comment. The Rams’ deputy director of athletics, Gregg Burke, referred questions regarding football affiliation to Bjorn.
The CAA, based in Richmond, will have 10 members this season, 11 in 2011 and 11 in 2012, if URI exits and no other CAA schools leave the league. CAA Football until further notice intends to operate as one division, with eight league playing obligations. It has been a two-division conference (North and South).
In the past 24 seasons, Rhode Island has posted overall winning records three times, the last in 2001. In league play during that stretch, the Rams posted two winning seasons. FCS schools have a scholarship ceiling of 63, and CAA members are committed to fully funding their programs. Members of the Northeast Conference’s football branch (Central Connecticut State, Albany, Wagner, Robert Morris, Bryant, Monmouth, Duquesne, Sacred Heart, St. Francis) will have a scholarship limit of 34 this year, and that will gradually increase to 40 by 2012, according to Ralph Ventre of that league’s office.
The winner of the NEC regular-season championship this season will earn an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs for the first time. The NCAA expanded the postseason field to 20, from 16. The NEC has one of 10 automatic berths.
The Yankee Conference, with Rhode Island as a member, started in 1946. The Atlantic 10 Conference assumed operational control during 1997-2006, and the league became CAA Football in 2007.
By John O’Connor, Richmond Times-Dispatch