Led by Michael "Doc Nix" Nickens, George Mason and their "Green Machine" band will have new home, leaving CAA for Atlantic 10 as of July 1st. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)
The Atlantic 10 is once again acting quickly to replace the four schools that have left.
With Butler and Xavier leaving for the Big East, Temple for what is left of the Big East, and Charlotte returning to Conference USA, the A-10 officially adds its thirteenth member on July 1st, as George Mason will be mirroring Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond in leaving the Colonial Athletic Association in favor of the A-10.
"This move, as you can imagine, creates a lot of exciting opportunities for our students," George Mason president Dr. Angel Cabrera explained. "We're confident that our membership with the Atlantic 10 will help build our future and take the story of George Mason around the world."
Athletic director Tom O'Connor emphasized the reunion with two of the Patriots' former rivals, as VCU and Richmond will once again face off with Mason on a regular basis. "Part of the decision process was to make sure we weren't just in the Atlantic 10, but that we were successful in the Atlantic 10. That was a difficult phone call to make, (to CAA commissioner Tom Yeager) there was a lot of sentiment involved."
The move to the Atlantic 10 will only cost George Mason $2.65 million, including a $1 million CAA exit fee. In addition, the Patriots' seven spring sports teams will be ineligible for CAA championship competition as per league bylaws.
The CAA now becomes a nine-team league, as Old Dominion and Georgia State have left for Conference USA and the Sun Belt, respectively, while College of Charleston comes over from the Southern Conference. The A-10 will more than likely look to even its ranks, perhaps exploring the possibility of adding Siena while Dayton and Saint Louis may also be leaving for the Big East.