C-USA just announced that the far-flung conference would add five new members. Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Texas-San Antonio are on the way in, bringing the league’s membership up to 13 in Borg-like fashion.
One school that was expected to take the plunge was not officially invited, however. The Old Dominion Monarchs, from the FCS-level CAA, were expected to join, but were conspicuously left off the list.
So is that dream over for the nascent football program and (by the way, in case anyone cares) consistently strong hoops Monarchs? Not exactly. According to the Hampton Roads Pilot Online, league and prospective new member may simply be cooling their heels – a rarity in this era of jump-first-ask-questions-later realignment.
“The sense of our membership is that we want to be on an even number and larger than 13,” said C-USA commish Britton Banowsky.
I’m not even sure that qualifies as double-speak. Let’s stipulate that C-USA definitely wants to add one more member and play with 14. Is it a good idea for ODU? The article points out a few possible roadblocks:
The switch would involve an upgrade from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision that would raise ODU’s athletic profile but also require an increase in the football budget. ODU spent $5 million on football in 2010-11. CUSA’s current eight schools spent an average of $8.2 million.
ODU also would incur other costs associated with moving up, which would almost certainly lead to an eventual expansion of its stadium. Travel costs in far-flung CUSA would also probably be higher than in the CAA. The school might need to add women’s sports to comply with Title IX requirements.
New sources of revenue would also be available, including TV and conference payouts and larger corporate sponsorships and donations associated with a higher brand of athletics.
The question is whether the school can make the numbers work without an increase in student fees, a sensitive issue for the board of visitors and president John Broderick.
As a football-driven decision, it seems odd. The Monarchs have only had a football program for three years, though they’ve become amazingly successful at the FCS level during that time. Several of the incoming programs are in similar gridiron straits. In basketball terms, ODU would actually be one of the stronger additions to the league.
Long story short? Stay tuned. We aren’t near done with this everlasting gobstopper.