CAA hoops tournament is in a state of flux

Posted: June 22, 2012

SUPPOSE THEY ran a college basketball tournament and no one showed up, including a few of the teams.

It seems that the Colonial Athletic Association, of which Drexel and Delaware are members, is in a state of flux, with teams leaving (Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, Georgia State), teams arriving (Hofstra, Towson) and teams being banned from postseason play because of poor performance (Towson and UNC-Wilmington). If the CAA would hold its men's basketball tournament today, only seven teams would be eligible to play.

VCU (Atlantic 10), ODU (Conference USA) and Georgia State (Sun Belt), under league bylaws, cannot compete for NCAA berths because they have already announced that they are leaving the conference, and Towson and UNC-Wilmington are being booted for a year because of their Academic Performance Rate. Add all that to the news that came out of Richmond on Wednesday, that the CAA is exploring ways to move its tournament out of Richmond and the Richmond Coliseum as early as next season, and you have a recipe for confusion.

One of the sites being discussed as a possible replacement is the Palestra, which would be great for Drexel, but wouldn't make sense overall as only two CAA schools — Hofstra and Northeastern — are north of here. Atlantic City and Baltimore are also rumored.

The reasons for the possible move? First, the two biggest drawing cards — Richmond-based VCU and ODU (less than 2 hours away down I-64) — are bolting. With in-state VCU, ODU and George Mason (2-hour shoot up I-95), the tournament has drawn 44,372, 46,544 and 47,833 the past 3 years. Second, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones wants to replace the 41-year-old coliseum, so who knows how long it will be standing? And third, the CAA is looking to add new teams, possibly from the South, so the conference could be looking at a site south of Richmond.

The decision to stay or move will be a tough one for the CAA, which is, unfortunately, a victim of smaller schools looking to go to bigger conferences.

"The tournament has been very successful in Richmond the past 4 or 5 years," CAA boss Tom Yeager said. "The question will be maintaining that success, if that is possible. By the same token, we've had 23 years of fan-based ticket sales and sponsorships and everything else?…?There are a lot of moving parts that come into play in trying to make a good, informed decision."– n

Contact Mark Perner at pernerm@phillynews.com.”

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