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As Georgia State departs, conference's future unclear
CAA head says he wants 12 teams
Monday’s announcement that Georgia State would leave the Colonial Athletic Association for the Sun Belt Conference beginning with the 2013-14 school year was something CAA observers foresaw for several weeks.
What happens next in the CAA, however, is anyone’s guess.
Colonial commissioner Tom Yeager has said he’d prefer a 12-team league of full members, one of which is Delaware, meaning someone has to replace Georgia State.
Coastal Carolina (Big South), the College of Charleston (Southern Conference) and Davidson (Southern Conference) have been most prominently reported as potential candidates to replace Georgia State. Each makes sense geographically, keeping an additional southern team along with North Carolina at Wilmington.
But Stony Brook, located on Long Island, has also figured strongly in the speculation. Boston University’s name has even popped up. Both are America East members. Each would also have a built-in neighboring CAA rival – Hofstra for Stony Brook and Northeastern for Boston U.
Atlantic 10 member Charlotte has long been viewed as perhaps having the strongest CAA potential, but its apparent desire to play at the Football Bowl Subdivision level sometime after its football team debuts in 2013 could preclude any CAA move. Or maybe not.
That leads to another factor in determining CAA expansion candidates: How does football fit in?
The CAA has been the strongest and deepest conference at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision level. But it is a conglomerate of teams from different leagues.
The 11-team 2012 football lineup consists of CAA members Delaware, Towson, William & Mary, James Madison, Old Dominion and Georgia State; the Atlantic 10’s Rhode Island and Richmond; America East’s New Hampshire and Maine; and the Big East’s Villanova. Teams will play eight conference games.
But in 2013, the league with shrink to nine teams, with Georgia State’s Sun Belt switch and Rhode Island going to the Northeast Conference. That is actually an ideal number, because it allows for a complete schedule in which everyone plays everyone.
However, because of Villanova’s recent dalliance with moving to the FBS Big East for football, and widespread speculation that James Madison and Old Dominion may have long-term FBS aspirations, can the CAA afford to have just nine teams? The conference has already recently lost Hofstra and Northeastern, which dropped football after the 2009 season, and Massachusetts, moving to the FBS Mid-American Conference this year.
That could lead the CAA to consider schools with football as expansion candidates. The College of Charleston and Boston University don’t play football, but Stony Brook, Coastal Carolina (both Big South for football) and Davidson (Pioneer for football) do.
“It’s concerning,” Delaware football coach K.C. Keeler said, “because there’s a lot of flux. … I get concerned. Where’s I-AA [FCS] football going to be five years from now? It’s a great level for us to be, but I want to make sure it’s still here.”
By KEVIN TRESOLINI, The News Journal