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Appalachian State, College of Charleston and Davidson could join CAA
The Fourth of July is national day of celebration, but it could also be cause for celebration in the Colonial Athletic Association with the addition of new members.
Southern Conference officials have given Appalachian State University, the College of Charleston and Davidson College until the Fourth to declare their intentions of staying in the conference or departing to the CAA.
The switch would help the CAA several ways. It would help fill the void left by the departure of Virginia Commonwealth to the Atlantic 10, Old Dominion to Conference USA, and Georgia State to the Sun Belt.
Geographically, all three prospects would preserve a Southern presence for the CAA to go along with the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and colleges in Virginia.
All three are competitively potent as well.
Appalachian State is a perennial postseason contender at the Football Championship Subdivision level in football, and it would make a nice replacement for ODU. The Mountaineer men’s and women’s track and cross country programs have been among the conference’s elite.
Davidson is a consistent winner in men’s basketball, with numerous NCAA tournament appearances. Another bonus is that Davidson’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams already compete in the CAA. The football program now plays in the Pioneer League, which includes small schools Campbell, Jacksonville and Valparaiso.
The College of Charleston has a solid all-around athletic program. The men’s basketball team, led by former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, is one of the top programs in the Southern Conference. The women’s volleyball team has won 11 conference championships, while the men’s and women’s tennis teams have combined for nine titles. Men’s soccer has played in four NCAA tournaments. The Cougars do not have a football program, although there has been a recent push by the student body to start one.
Furman, Elon and Stony Brook have also been linked to the CAA over the last few months.
Appalachian State would be an interesting addition. Just two years ago, there was talk of them, along with James Madison and Villanova, looking to make the jump to Division I [Football Bowl Subdivision] status.
Leaving a conference is expensive. The Charleston Post & Courier reported this week that should the College of Charleston leave the Southern Conference, the school would have to pay a $600,000 exit fee with less than two year notice, or $300,0000 for more than two years warning.
ODU, VCU and Georgia State each paid $250,000 to quit the conference early. Earlier this month, conference presidents voted to increase the exit fee to $1 million. That should discourage others from bailing out and add some much-needed stability to the league.
By John Harvey, Virginia Gazette