Barclays Center gets additional hype for upcoming Atlantic 10 tournament now that Butler has decided to join conference one year earlier than initially intended. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)
About a month after initially declaring it would join the Atlantic 10 in 2013, Butler University has now expedited their departure from the Horizon League, where the Indianapolis institution made its name as the Cinderella mid-major that advanced to back-to-back national championship games.
The Bulldogs and their 17 athletic programs will become full members of the Atlantic 10 as of July 1st, and the move comes two weeks after Virginia Commonwealth elected to leave the uncertain future of the Colonial Athletic Association for a more secure standing in the A-10. Butler becomes the sixteenth A-10 basketball program, which now gives the conference one more team than the now-15 team Big East, and now places head coach Brad Stevens and VCU architect Shaka Smart in the same conference just thirteen months after the two 35-year-old prodigies matched wits in the 2011 Final Four.
"We are grateful to the Atlantic 10 for welcoming us into the fold a year ahead of schedule," said Butler athletic director and former men's basketball coach Barry Collier. "Ultimately, it was in our best interest to reach an agreement with the Horizon League for immediate departure." The decision to switch conferences a year ahead of schedule comes on the heels of the Horizon League allegedly precluding Butler from participating in their conference tournaments, as reported by ESPN's Andy Katz.
The Atlantic 10 will now devise a schedule that involves a single round robin for its members, with the sixteenth game in the schedule being a home-and-home series against one school rather than switch to the 18-game ledger used by the Big East. Butler's arrival also positions the league to possibly secure as many as five NCAA Tournament bids next season, when the A-10 tournament will be contested at Brooklyn's Barclays Center for the first time.