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.

37 responses to Why VCU Just Made a Very Bad Decision

  1. Completely agree with this. Bad move by VCU and surprised. Especially with the CAA tourney in Richmond

    • I think you have a better chance of winning the CAA every year then trying to finish top 3 in the A10

  2. Nothing screams "big time" like the A10. Nothing like playing in front of 500 people in Olean, NY or Kingston, RI.

    It's not about the state of the CAA post-VCU, it's the fact that VCU had a chance to build something (like Gonzaga) and instead they chose to tear it down and, eventually, they will pay the cost.

  3. The reality of college sports these days is there are pretty much the BCS conferences and everybody else. And, even among those, the Big East is in BIG TIME trouble with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia leaving — and possibly Notre Dame and U-Conn. not far behind. Nearly all of those could (or are already) headed to the ACC, so that hurts.

    The SEC, Big 10, and Pac-12 are pretty strong and the Big 12 (or whatever it is) might not be too good.

    Otherwise, every other conference doesn't look too different from the CAA or the A-10 (or the MAC or any other conference). So I don't think it makes too much of a difference.

  4. I agree to an extent Rob. I think as a mid-major your first and foremost goal is to make to the NCAA tournament. Now of course schools like Xavier have aspirations just beyond an appearance, but you have to get to the dance to make some noise.

    People that in favor of this move will point to how the A10 can get 3 to 4 bids, while the CAA usually gets 1 or 2. I think it's easier, especially for VCU, to obtain one of those 1 or 2 CAA bids. You also have to factor in the Pac12 only getting one bid this year and the SEC only getting 3, you have to think it won't remain that well which dries up at-large bids for mid-majors.

    It's certainly an interesting phenomenon and I'll be interested to see how it plays out.

  5. You clearly left some words out, so I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to getting at. That said…..

    VCU will get *OVER* $5mil in the A10 when and if they put together 4 NCAA tournament wins.

    Compare that to the CAA, where they only hit the POTENTIAL to get $5mil after playing Duke, Pitt, UCLA, USC, Georgetown, Purdue, FSU, Kansas, Butler, Wichita State and Indiana in the NCAA tournament.

    All that money VCU won for the CAA? It isn't guaranteed to VCU. First, 60% of the NCAA revenue units get split among all schools. Only then do CAA schools have the "right" to compete for a share of the remaining 40% which goes into an Excellence Pool. Shares from this pool can accrued a number of ways, including by winning tournament games in THAT cycle, but the NCAA pays out for *playing* tournament games and pays out for a full 6 years.

    At any given point over the next 6 years that the $5mil in NCAA tournament winnings are doled out to the CAA, VCU could get some of that 40%. Or NONE.

    So I'm not sure what you were getting on about with your 19 YEARS IN A ROW bit, but I think you need to check your math and understand the process more before getting wound up about the numbers.

    • Edit: sorry if this wasn't clear, but the "NONE" is referring to conference shares of the 40% cut that comprises the Excellence Pool which would put VCU above and beyond what it's owed at a minimum for tourney games WON (not played). VCU's shares of the $1,400,000 for each of the Butler, Pitt, UCLA and Indiana games revert to the Excellence Pool automatically and are available for other teams to compete for after the first of the six years is paid out to the team that played the game.

  6. dean said on May 16, 2012

    The blog talks of no connection the city of Richmond and other A10 teams. Well two years ago I remember VCU running through about five teams in late March that had no real connection to Richmond and the city got pretty hyped about it.

    Having two teams in the same city in the same conference will like enhance both programs and the city. VCU will continue the state rivalry with ODU. VCU will play in a much stronger basketball conference and will win.

    • Dean I think beating high profile teams in March is very different than mid-January games against Duquesne. The case study is down the street that's the only place you have to look.

      I think you have a chance to enhance a inter-city matchup a lot more w/o two teams in the same conference, just like Cincinnati.

      • It's weird because on January 21 you wrote "I’ve been to alot of Richmond games but not as many VCU ones this year."

        So, despite Richmond abandoning the city, you decided to attend more UR games than VCU games THE YEAR AFTER THE RAMS WENT TO THE FINAL FOUR? Going into a game when they'd been on an 11-2 run?

        I think you're concern trolling/engaging in wishful thinking.

  7. @mistachill, It took VCU 22 years to win a NCAA game. How can anyone assume that VCU will enter the A10 and win 4 NCAA tournament games? What's the over under on that? 20 years?

    It's not automatic that VCU enters the A10 and has immediate or sustained success. Although I think they'd have a much better chance of sustained success in the CAA. I appreciate your passion and I'm sorry we don't share the same opinion.

    • Dude, you're seriously mixing up correlation and causation. VCU didn't have success BECAUSE of the CAA anymore than it won a game 22 years earlier BECAUSE it was in the Sun Belt.

      The fact is the CAA had two teams in 6 years make it to a Final Four and it did NOTHING to capitalize on that and incentivize winning basketball programs. Why do you think Mason was talking to the A10?

      The CAA is not stable. It can't bring in schools that have football but loser basketball programs and subsidize them with the winnings of the top tier programs. FCS schools will ALWAYS be looking to jump to FBS. The A10 is the best basketball only conference there is, and better than most all sports conferences. VCU doesn't have football, therefore this was the right play on VCU's part.

    • Also, let's think about why it took so long to get that W….. Could it have anything to do with high seeding because the CAA got no respect until Mason and VCU shut everyone up? Answer: YES!

  8. @2+2 I live right by UofR and the tickets were $5. Sorry just how my schedule lines up. I go to every Longwood home game, the only team I truly support. I'm a basketball fan and enjoying going to games right down the street. I'm not sure why that bothers you?

    • It doesn't bother me, but it's ironic when you're going on about how the City of Richmond will forever forsake VCU for joining UR in the A10. And, lo! You neglect the case study (as you are wont to say) of yourself in attending those Spiders games…..

  9. So do to the fact I attended a couple of Spiders game this year and have seen that stadium sparsely inhabited for nearly 10 years now goes against the "case study"? I can walk to UofR games and remember the CAA days for Richmond. It's not the same.

    You're a VCU fan and are failing to be objective. The perception of VCU hasn't changed today, just like if Gonzaga would have jumped to Mt. West, WAC, or whatever else years ago. I think its a mistake for several reasons, but only time will tell 5 to 10 years from now.

  10. "Also, let’s think about why it took so long to get that W….. Could it have anything to do with high seeding because the CAA got no respect until Mason and VCU shut everyone up? Answer: YES!"

    I actually think its more due to 2 NCAA appearances in 21 years. You kind of have to make the tournament to win a game in it.

    • Yes, there were only 2 tourney trips. Part of that was because of bad coaching and lack of commitment/prioritizing by the AD. That has nothing to do with conference affiliation of course. What does though is being a 1 bid league. The expectation that VCU runs the conference tournament table every year in a depleted CAA aren't any higher than VCU finishing 3rd, 4th or 5th even every year in the A10.

  11. The CAA's future is 15 and 16 NCAA seeds. Glad VCU is off the titanic.

  12. Really? You have absolutely no business writing about the decision that VCU made to leave the caa and join the a10. I can assure you that the administration at VCU performed a thorough analysis on this before pulling the trigger. Btw, when was the last time you went to a VCU game? Do t even try to compare the church atmosphere at the robins center with the "electric " environment at the Siegel. We pack the house very night no matter if it's odu or Towson….the dregs of college. Asker all. We will continue to pack the house as our a10 brethren pay their visits to the Siegel center. You should stop now before you embarrass yourself even more about how little you know about this subject. Good day.

  13. Man am I embarrassed… the last VCU game I went to was March 5 and went to 5 in the Siegel Center this year, I clearly have no idea what I'm talking about.

  14. @yodude I think your point is the biggest point of contention and its obviously something we can't solve right now. Personally, I think if the goal is to make the NCAA tourny then VCU has a better chance in the CAA. I don't think it's fair to say they are a shoe-in over a long period of time to finish top 5 and I also don't think its fair to assume the top 5 or even 4 teams go to the tournament.

    If we look at the last 10 years the A-10 averages 2.8 teams in the tournament per year. Sure you can say Butler/VCU raise the competitiveness of the conference but you also have to factor in Temple, a higher profile school than both VCU and Butler who has accounted for a lot of those bids.

    Also say that more schools bolt conferences like the Big East and Xavier, Dayton, etc are called upon…your left with a 2 bid conference at best.

  15. D.R. said on May 17, 2012

    I'm really dreading that the CAA Tournament will move out of Richmond because of this. The city is downtrodden at the moment and a lot of small business owners really enjoy the huge boost of foot traffic during the tournament. The money I make off of it, especially considering that it's held during the "red" season, is often more than enough to pay the bills for a month or more.

    Also, the traffic I get during games where in-state rivals are visiting VCU are huge. Will fans from Xavier, Butler, or Temple travel in better numbers than those from ODU, GMU, W&M, or JMU? I really hope so because every customer counts during this economy, and if I only get 3 Butler fans instead of 20 GMU fans, that's a loss of a lot of money. I understand that VCU needs to do what's best for it, but I wish they looked a little more at the economic impact this will have. Richmond is already down as it is, but having VCU meant that a lot of people from around the state pumped money into the city. Even if we keep the CAA Tournament, a lot of us small business owners are going to need to somehow replace traffic during the seasons (not just basketball) to make up for what I expect will be less fans from other areas visiting Richmond.

    • Great points D.R. and I think the picture is bleak. Just from going to various Richmond games over the past 10 years I haven't seen a single A10 fanbase that travels particularly well to RVA.

      I think the one positive scenario that could play out is the city opting to keep the tourney through 2016 and the competitive balance of the conference evening which could, in turn, bring in more out of town travelers. Back in the early 2000s UNCW fans used to flock to RVA. Also, I think the CAA could add soe enthusiastic, up and coming fan bases, like Coastal Carolina in particular, who could potentially bring some people to the region.

      I'd love to see the city, region, and VCU come together to build a new venue in Richmond. It really could invigorate the region and bring back events like the NCAA opening rounds. Richmond is perfectly located for such events. VCU has quickly outgrown the Siegel Center.

    • Temple has 1 tourney win in the past 11 seasons. The only way Temple is better than Butler is if you go by RPI and that speaks more to the conference Temple has been in for those 11 seasons.

      Going all the way back to 1999, Temple has 2 Elite Eights to Butler's two Sweet Sixteens if I give you a huge mulligan and tak out Butler's two runs to the national championship.

      The A10 minus Temple (post Chaney) and Charlotte PLUS Butler and VCU = upgrade.

      3 bids for this league will be a down season. 4 bids will be the norm. Book it.

      As for Xavier or Dayton going to the BE, surprise!, they don't have football, so moot point.

      • Moot point? If other football schools leave then who replaces them? FIU? It's very much conceivable that there is some sort of "Catholic Conference" for basketball that feature BE charter members and schools like Xavier.

        You're also ignoring the conditions outside of the A10 and simply looking at it in a vacuum. The Pac12 isn't going to be a one bid conference for very long, the SEC should get better, as with the ACC. At-large bids will be tougher to get.

        And Surprise! Dayton does have football last time I checked.

        • "You’re also ignoring the conditions outside of the A10 and simply looking at it in a vacuum. The Pac12 isn’t going to be a one bid conference for very long, the SEC should get better, as with the ACC. At-large bids will be tougher to get."

          The ACC takes some of the BE's long overly generous allotment of at large bids and the Horizon, CAA and other lesser leagues are semi-permanently relegated to one bid leagues.

          We haven't even gotten into the media and TV rights angle in all this yet. VCU just scratched ESPN's back in a MAJOR way; the favor will be returned in kind.

  16. BE basketball schools are going to wilfully turn down BE television revenue to start their own league the same day Dayton goes FBS.

    If the BE kicks the non-FBS basketball schools out, they'll be looking to form a BASKETBALL conference that plugs that revenue hole and shields them from football realignments, not a bible study group.

  17. Wow so the BE is going to somehow kick out 4 charter members now… makes sense.

    It's pretty awesome how you can make assumptions and deem them correct but no one else afforded the same opportunity. You're also continue to cherry pick and ignoring a lot of the discussion.

    I also like "the only way Temple is better than Butler is if you use RPI", the basis of nearly all VCU fan's argument has been conference RPI. RPI is what get's you into the tourny. I apologize I thought we were talking about bids into the tournament, not postseason success.

    I really think VCU is going to enjoy being a perennial Final 4 squad in the CBI and CIT due to this decision.

    • Like any BCS conference the BE gets its money from football. The point is the only way the basketball schools leave is if they get totally screwed or are forced out because they're pushing too hard (see Georgetown scuttling the last TV deal). Syracuse is already gone. Why?

      If the BE doesn't stop the bleeding on the football side of things, the golden goose is dead. Syracuse basketball OUT. Navy football IN. The BE has no choice but to appease football schools at the expense of the basketball schools (hmmm sounds like the CAA).

      The point it's hard to find and keep a school that has a great football AND basketball program. One sport or the other has to pay the price in serving both masters because as we've seen it's not a balancing act that can be maintained forever.

      So, yeah, the basketball schools would likely be effectively kicked out before they give up that TV money. It doesn't have to be a direct "you're fired"; they just have to put football over basketball enough times in a row to send the message.

      • You are completely ignoring the whole premise of the article. It's not about VCU it's about the COMMUNITY, a community that VCU just screwed over and is leaving in the dust. It was a selfish move manufactured by fear of a situation similar to the Metro Conf, just this time VCU has leveraged and abused it. I can see how a VCU alum or fan can defend the move, but you have to look beyond Broad St and look at how this hurts many more people in the city than it helps.

        Also BE charter members receive football and BCS revenue that will and can't be taken away, the Big East does not have the ability to appease "football" schools hence the departures.

        • "Also BE charter members receive football and BCS revenue that will and can’t be taken away, the Big East does not have the ability to appease “football” schools hence the departures."

          Of course it does by prioritizing keeping football strong at basketball's expense.

          Also the Television revenue split is NOT even between participating football and basketball schools.

  18. "I also like “the only way Temple is better than Butler is if you use RPI”, the basis of nearly all VCU fan’s argument has been conference RPI. RPI is what get’s you into the tourny. I apologize I thought we were talking about bids into the tournament, not postseason success."

    Uh, yeah. I said that myself: " The only way Temple is better than Butler is if you go by RPI and that speaks more to the conference Temple has been in for those 11 seasons."

    Temple has gotten a good number of auto and at large bids in the A10. Because they're Temple? No. Because their RPI is benefited by being in a conference with minimal scheduling standards, a conference that's better than the Horizon and the CAA. But that's, again, a function of them being in a good conference. Anything can happen on the hardwood, but Butler's had a very similar RPI to Temple's over the last 11 seasons and they've KILLED Temple when it comes to tourney success. So does the A10, based on past performance stretching back over half a generation, lose anything with the exit of Temple and Charlotte and entrance of Butler and VCU? No. Both teams will have to compete to be worth of at large bids in the A10 but let's not pretend Temple's "success" is anything but achievable.