RICHMOND — Weddings aren't complete without heartwarming and/or amusing tales of the couple's courtship. Who asked who? First-date faux pas. Proposal anxiety. Did he go to Jared?
Neither party revealed who made the first move, how long they dated or what sealed the deal. The happy couple toasted the future, danced awkwardly and darted to the stretch limo to start the honeymoon.
Will the union be long-term and prosperous? Is VCU, as A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade gushed, "a perfect fit"? And what of the jilted ex?
Given the ever-changing conference landscape, who knows.
This much is certain: VCU, a basketball school emboldened by its 2011 Final Four appearance, sees the A-10 as an avenue to greater exposure and riches than its previous home, the
"The expected returns," VCU president Michael Rao said during a news conference at the Rams' basketball arena, "are far greater than the short-term losses."
Rao's bean-counters had better be right, because the initial financial hit is considerable, especially for an athletic department that doesn't rake in millions from football.
VCU forfeits Final Four payouts of approximately $5 million — the money remains with the CAA — and pays a $250,000 exit fee and $700,000 entry fee. Moreover, interim athletic director David Benedict projects $150,000 in additional travel costs each year as the Rams shift leagues immediately for the 2012-13 academic year.
But the A-10 has alluring charms. There's exposure in media markets such as New York (
Perhaps most important to VCU, there are the conference's 28 at-large
Now I would argue that with their resources and recent success, coach Shaka Smart's Rams are built for serious at-large consideration regardless of conference affiliation. But there's no denying the numbers.
Indeed, CAA commissioner Tom Yeager said it's always difficult when someone leaves you "for something better."
Struck by the comment, I asked Yeager, the only commish the CAA has known, if he believes VCU is better off in the A-10.
"Does it matter?" he said. "They're gone. Time will tell."
Yeager's teleconference embodied his day. He spoke from
Earlier in the day, visiting league member
"I didn't sleep very well last night in the hotel. … I've been doing this a long time at this place," he said. "Got a lot invested in what we built. And people saying bad things about you. Your girlfriend just dumped you, your wife just said, 'Ah, I'm gonna go hook up with somebody else.' Yeah, it's not a good day."
And it could get worse if, as expected,
Some would have you believe that the A-10 selected the Rams instead of the Patriots, that Mason's announcement last week was disingenuous face-saving after learning it wasn't on the A-list. Sorry, not buying.
In fact, were the Patriots to reconsider their decision in a year, here's guessing McGlade would weave the Welcome Wagon through rush-hour traffic to Fairfax.
With the A-10 losing
For example, if the Big East basketball faction of
"I don't think any of us standing right here can predict what's going to happen with conference realignment," Benedict said. "Our focus is on controlling our own destiny and joining a league that we felt was more aligned with our goals."
In that vein: The A-10 gives 75 percent of NCAA tournament revenue to the school that earned it, while sharing 25 percent. The CAA's formula is more equitable.
Does that ratchet up expectations?
"Absolutely," Rao said, "and we wouldn't want it any other way."
Pressure's on, Shaka.