With Georgia State committed to leaving the Colonial Athletic Association in favor of the Sun Belt in 2013, and the possible, even likely departure of George Mason and VCU to the A-10, guesswork has run wild as to which teams might fill the void.
Speculation about the addition of more Virginia-based schools was addressed in a recent Roanoke Times article, which put a pretty strong kibosh on the notion of either Radford or Virginia Military Institute making the leap from the Big South to the CAA.
“[W]e would need to hit the lottery to be able to do that,” VMI athletic director Donny White told the paper. “It would probably be hard for us resource-wise to be a member of the Colonial in basketball.” He’s not joking. VMI’s total basketball budget of $480,000 would only pay a fraction of Shaka Smart’s salary.
The CAA fields an odd conglomeration of FCS-football-only and basketball-only members, with only James Madison, William and Mary, Delaware, Towson and Old Dominion participating in all sports. That fact makes it difficult to speculate on what criteria the league might use for future membership.
We might as well look at basketball as the main criteria, since that’s our bailiwick and all. The most tempting theoretical future member may be Davidson, a school that would fit into the hoops power structure of the CAA very well. In terms of football and basketball equivalency, Coastal Carolina and Charlotte have been mentioned. Stony Brook also fields a FCS football team, and an emerging hoops squad that would likely struggle to adapt to the higher level of basketball played in the CAA.
As the Roanoke article points out, the NBC Sports Network TV contract the CAA recently signed could play a major factor in any future expansion plans. In the recent past, the CAA has moved aggressively into larger media markets farther outside of the league’s traditional Virginia base, with teams like Northeastern in Boston and Georgia State in Atlanta. With that in mind, the Charlotte market – in the form of either Davidson or UNC-Charlotte, if not both – would seem to be the next likely target.