Sunday, May 25, 2003

A-10 moves entire tourney to Dayton

Amid speculation the impending Big East-Atlantic Coast Conference shakeup could purge the Atlantic 10 of some of its teams, the A-10 athletic directors got down to some business at the conference meetings.

They agreed to move the entire A-10 men's basketball tournament to Dayton as opposed to just the final three rounds as was the case this year. That left four teams feeling left out after losing in the first round at campus sites.

Though this makes tournament logistics harder for the league, it was the right move to make, considering that the expense of putting all 12 teams in Dayton isn't that much more than transporting teams to campus sites.

"We're very supportive and excited about the 12 teams all coming together to Dayton in the conference tournament," Massachusetts athletic director Ian McCaw said. "We feel that creates a greater atmosphere for the fans and alumni and student-athletes involved. We think it's a positive step for the conference."

Massachusetts was not one of the eight teams to play at Dayton last season. The Minutemen lost at home in the first round of the tourney to George Washington.

A-10 commissioner Linda Bruno also issued a statement during the meetings that addressed the conference realignment issue and said the A-10 will be proactive in going after teams.

"The Atlantic 10 is one of the premier conferences in the country," Bruno said in a statement. "Its members agree that should the landscape of intercollegiate athletics change, the conference will aggressively pursue adding institutions with outstanding basketball programs in order to maintain the high national stature the Atlantic 10 enjoys."

The statement is interesting because prior to the meetings, Bruno told the Enquirer in an interview, "It's hard to make plans when nothing has happened."

Well, nothing of significance has happened yet. Miami hasn't left the Big East, and the Big East hasn't called upon Xavier, Dayton or Saint Joseph's to join its conference. Everyone associated with college athletics knows those events could happen, but by issuing the statement, the A-10 sounds as though it has resigned itself to losing some of its schools.

Some reports have suggested that the A-10 would go after the five non-football schools in the Big East, should the Big East split. That's an unrealistic idea at best. Seton Hall, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence and Villanova are attractive enough by themselves that they won't need to look for a league (especially one with Fordham and Duquesne) if the Big East does indeed divide. They will command enough interest from outside non-football schools that they will have little trouble rebuilding in their own league.



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