Richmond, VA – The Atlantic 10 has further solidified its position as the premier non-BCS college basketball conference by adding Virginia Commonwealth to its ranks.
The move, which is effective for in the upcoming academic year, was announced at a press conference Tuesday by VCU president Michael Rao.
In the ever-changing landscape of conference realignment -- driven, primarily, by college football -- is another significant addition for the A-10, a league that does not sponsor football but boasts solid basketball programs.
Four of its teams earned bids to the NCAA tourney in 2012, while VCU is a year removed from its unprecedented First Four-to-Final Four run in the NCAA Tournament.
Said A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade, "One of the driving forces and priorities of the A-10 is to further enhance our national prominence in men's basketball, build our brand and strengthen our current footprint. In addition to bringing in well-rounded sports programs across the board, VCU solidifies the A-10 academically and athletically."
The move shores up the conference following two departures. One of its traditional powerhouses, Temple, is departing for the Big East in 2013-14, and UNC Charlotte will join Conference USA in the same academic year.
The A-10 had already filled one of those spots by luring Butler -- national runners-up in 2010 and 2011 -- away from the Horizon League earlier in May.
Virginia Commonwealth, meanwhile, moves up from the Colonial Athletic Association, a league that despite having two Final Four teams in the past six seasons is traditionally a one-bid conference.
"VCU believes the A-10 represents the best opportunity to meet our long-term aspirations for national academic and athletic achievement," said Rao.
The school will pay a $250,000 exit fee to its former conference, and will also forgo several millions of dollars in NCAA Tournament win shares accumulated over the past six seasons -- including those from its Final Four run.
George Mason, the first CAA institution to reach the Final Four, announced Friday that it would remain in the league after much speculation that it was seeking a bid to the Atlantic-10.
The Colonial also may lose another key member in Old Dominion. ODU, which has a strong FCS football program, has reportedly been mulling an invitation to join BCS football by way of C-USA.