Why VCU Just Made a Very Bad Decision
May 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
In 2001 the University of Richmond left the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Atlantic 10 Conference. As a member of the CAA, Richmond was considered a "power" with five conference titles and thrived off of local rivalries with VCU, William & Mary, James Madison, and others. Richmond was always the "first choice" to attend games in the area and more of a power than lowly VCU who had only one CAA title to their name (1996). But when Richmond moved to the CAA they lost the community and it's support. Despite going to the NCAA tournament three times since their A10 transition the Robins Center, where the Spiders play, is still very much a morgue. It used to be filled, but now it stands as a reminder of a decision over 10 years ago to appease Northern alumni.
Apparently VCU didn't get the case study or look down the street when examining to move to the A10. Sure the Rams will be reunited with the Spiders as conference foes, but VCU now joins a conference that virtually no one in the Richmond community can connect with. Ask ten VCU fans if they know where St. Bonaventure is and nine of them will likely react by saying "Who?!?". You can ask who won the A10 and likely no one will know. It's not an indictment of the basketball knowledge of VCU fans, its more of an example of how the school doesn't fit. The 30,00 plus student, public university will be leaving a local conference with local rivals behind to join a conference that will feature eleven private institutions, and eleven of which are from the North.
VCU is also bolting the CAA while leaving $5 million dollars on the table and not reaping the benefits of their recent NCAA tournament runs. Can VCU instantly compete on the hardwood in the A10? Absolutely. But in five or so years, when the dust has settled, this will look like a horrible move for the university and will leave a stain where they have left the community behind. Does the A10 get more bids than the CAA? Yes. Is it easier to make the NCAA tournament in the A10 though? Not necessarily, just as the University of Richmond. Has their profile increased? Absolutely not.
The Richmond Coliseum hosts the CAA tournament every year. What many people do not know is that the venue has the second longest tenure run than any other conference tournament venue, only behind the Big East and Madison Square Garden. Thanks to VCU the city and community can waive bye-bye to the tourny and its economic impact on the region.
Simply put, VCU got too big for their britches. Did Gonzaga ever bolt the West Coast Conference? No, they committed to it, made it better, and look at it now. VCU had the same opportunity with the CAA despite Old Dominion and Georgia State leaving. VCU could've been the Gonzaga of the East Coast, making the tournament year after year while collecting CAA title banners. Now they enter the muck that is the A10 in hopes of what? Doing what they were already doing well in the CAA? VCU will get lost in the shuffle in become Richmond. A respectable program, but a program that occasionally makes the tournament ever three or four years. They won't benefit fiscally and there other sports teams, which apparently VCU hasn't even thought about, will be shipped off all around colder, farther states to play baseball, soccer, and other sports; all while leaving behind their Virginia brethren.
The A10 has a TV deal with CBS Sports Network, which isn't even a "stock" channel for Richmond cable providers, all while the CAA has a deal with the NBC Sports Network which you can find in pretty much every household in RVA. VCU has forgotten their roots, the Coliseum-era, the Mac McCarthy era, the 11 year span with out a tournament appearance followed by 8 years before they went again.
I look forward to seeing VCU immediately competing for an A10 title, but it won't last. It makes sense for a school like Butler, but VCU doesn't sport the same demographics and their "boosters" are an on a level of embarrassment. Homers will shout and praise the school's move, but five or so years from now the school and its fans will realize what a mistake they made. VCU could have established something, rather they manufactured a decision out of fear and made a mistake. They were left behind before in their Metro Conference days and they are just scared it will happen again. They had a home and now they've left their community, fan base, and heritage behind to enter the abyss of mediocrity. In the A10 they are just another Ram.