|« History of FCS (I-AA) vs. FBS (I-A)||NFF Announces College Football Hall of Fame 2012 Divisional Class »|
Could VMI be a compatible consideration for the CAA?
VMI has belonged to the Big South Conference since 2003. The Richmond-based CAA is seeking new members after losing VCU, ODU and Georgia State since early April.
Virginia Military Institute regularly assesses its conference affiliation and potential new paths. Recently, the Keydets intensified their examination.
VMI has belonged to the Big South Conference since 2003. The Richmond-based Colonial Athletic Association is seeking new members after losing Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and Georgia State since early April.
VMI Athletic Director Donny White said on Monday that being in a league with the University of Richmond (for football), William and Mary and James Madison would appeal to a good-sized chunk of VMI’s alumni.
“There’s no question that the Colonial Athletic Association is a very attractive conference, and has been for a long time,” White said.
UR and VMI have met in football 87 times. VMI and W&M have played 88 times. The Keydets, while in the Big South, have regularly played UR and W&M in football and other sports. JMU and VMI have met 13 times in football, playing for the first time in 1982.
Liberty, the only other state school that’s a member of the Big South’s seven-team football league, is seeking FBS status. That can come only with membership in an FBS league, which the Flames are investigating.
Since joining the Big South, VMI is 10-33 in league football competition. The Keydets have not posted an overall winning football record since 1981.
White’s recent research into the CAA and its members’ budgets reconfirmed to him that matching the resources dedicated to athletics by CAA schools would be highly challenging for VMI.
“We’re a small, 1,600-student state school, and we rely so much on fundraising to provide for our budget,” White said. He added that VMI graduates only about 300 students each year and the school’s living alumni total is approximately 15,000.
Therefore, White said he didn’t know if VMI could invest in its athletic programs in a way that would give them the opportunity to be successful in CAA competition.
According to Department of Education figures for 2010-11, the most recent year available, UR, W&M and JMU each had annual football expenses in the $5 million range. VMI’s expenses were about $3 million.
But White said in this era of uncertainty in college athletics, VMI continues to look at the possibility of CAA affiliation, though cautiously.
“We don’t want to rule anything out, but we need to be attractive to the Colonial,” White said. VMI has not been contacted by the CAA, according to White. CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said he will not publicly share information about expansion scenarios.
CAA Football initially is likely to look north, to perhaps Stony Brook or Albany, for FCS programs that could ease the travel requirements of CAA Football members Maine and New Hampshire. Stony Brook and Albany in sports other than football belong to the America East Conference, which includes UNH and Maine. For football, Stony Brook belongs to the Big South and Albany is in the Northeast Conference. Monmouth, of the NEC, also is a possibility.
Without ODU (Conference USA), Georgia State (Sun Belt Conference) and Rhode Island (Northeast Conference), CAA Football would have eight members in 2013. League schools want at least nine members, to provide annually for eight conference games. Yeager has suggested CAA Football would grow larger than nine to insulate against further attrition.
The addition in all sports of Coastal Carolina, now in the Big South, may be of interest to UNC Wilmington, the CAA’s southernmost member. Coastal Carolina is located in Conway, S.C.
By: JOHN O’CONNOR | Richmond Times-Dispatch