The Atlantic 10 didn’t take long to replace the teams bolting for the new Catholic league that will adopt the Big East moniker.
The Atlantic 10 Conference Council of Presidents announced on Monday that it had accepted an application for membership from George Mason University. The school will join the A-10 in July and start competing in the 2013-14 academic year.
The move will help to replace Xavier and Butler, which have left the Atlantic 10 for the new Big East made up of the former league’s Catholic school defects. Though Butler was a newcomer in the 2012-13 year from the Horizon League, Xavier was a longtime A-10 member and was one of the league’s most consistent basketball teams.
Another longtime school, Temple University, had previously announced that it was leaving after the current season to join the now-former Big East.
Adding George Mason will give the Atlantic 10 a stronger foothold in the Washington, D.C., area, joining George Washington University as well as Richmond and VCU, which are based out of Virginia.
“George Mason University is an excellent addition to the Atlantic 10 Conference,” said Chair of the A-10 Council of Presidents and President of The George Washington University Dr. Steven Knapp. “The Patriots share both our strong commitment to intercollegiate athletics and our academic values. We’re delighted to welcome George Mason to the A-10 at a moment when the conference is enjoying unprecedented strength.”
The addition of George Mason also helps strengthen the Atlantic 10’s basketball resume. Already one of the most successful basketball-centric conference in Division I, the league would have seen a drop in its RPI due to its departures. George Mason will help it hold the line.
Despite sometimes being referred to as a mid-major, the A-10 fielded five NCAA tournament teams this year.
George Mason will bring the appeal of one of the biggest underdog stories in the last decade. In 2006 the Patriots made a run to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed, at that time the highest seed to ever reach the Final Four.
“This is an exciting time for George Mason University,” said George Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 is one that we have considered carefully and we have concluded with confidence that the time is right to join the A-10. Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 aligns with our core commitments as we move into the next phase of this university’s impressive journey.”