March 25, 2013

George Mason to Join Atlantic 10 in 2013-14

Women's lacrosse among spring sports now ineligible for CAA conference championships

from staff reports

George Mason University has entered into a membership agreement to join the Atlantic 10 Conference beginning with the 2013-14 season, President Ángel Cabrera announced Monday. George Mason will officially become a member of the 21-sport league on July 1, 2013.

"This is an exciting time for George Mason University," Cabrera said. "After careful consideration, we have concluded that joining the A10 is the right move at the right time for Mason."

In the short-term, however, George Mason's seven spring sports, including women's lacrosse, will not be able to compete for CAA conference championships this year because of CAA bylaws.

"It was agonizing decision to make," George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor said at a press conference Monday announcing the move. "I apologized to [affected] student-athletes this morning."

The Atlantic 10 is the premier basketball-driven conference in Division I. The Atlantic 10 placed a record nine teams in the 2013 postseason, including a record-tying five in the NCAA Tournament, three in the NIT and one in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). For the sixth year in a row, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned at least three bids and multiple at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament. A-10 women's basketball placed seven teams in the post season for the second straight year and has put 38 teams in postseason play over the past four years.

"George Mason University is an excellent addition to the Atlantic 10 Conference," said Chair of the A-10 Council of Presidents and President of The George Washington University Dr. Steven Knapp. "The Patriots share both our strong commitment to intercollegiate athletics and our academic values. We're delighted to welcome George Mason to the A-10 at a moment when the conference is enjoying unprecedented strength."

The university's decision to move to the Atlantic 10 will help further showcase the exemplary contributions of Mason's faculty, students and all that the university has to offer. In addition, it re-connects the university with schools and peers that have been our partners in the past and created meaningful rivalries.

"I am honored and excited to welcome George Mason to the Atlantic 10 Conference. They are a perfect fit for our league with world-class academic programs and a nationally successful intercollegiate athletic program," said A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. "The addition of George Mason, further strengthens our footprint, enhances our brand and will allow us to continue to build on our national prominence and success in men's basketball and all sports."

George Mason University is revered as the number one ranked "up and coming university." Mason is an institution—in its short history—that was propelled into the national and international spotlight for its ability to attract some of this nation's best scholar-teachers, serve all who seek an education, create an academic environment that truly puts its students first and fosters relationships where the diversity of people and ideas are central to everything the university does to help educators and scholars be more effective.

"Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 aligns with our core commitments as we move into the next phase of this university's impressive journey," Cabrera said. "We are confident that our new partnership with the A-10 will help us build on our past with optimism for a future that influences the landscape of the national capital region and new markets introduced to us through the valuable relationships with colleges and universities in the A-10."

George Mason is an original member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), along with current members James Madison, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the College of William and Mary, when the conference was formed out of the ECAC South in 1985. The University of Richmond was an original member of the CAA before moving to the Atlantic 10 for the 2001-02 season. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is completing their first year of competition in the A-10 after a 17-year stint in the CAA.

"As a charter member of the CAA, we are proud of the accomplishments of the conference and have enjoyed many long-standing relationships," O'Connor said. "However, with changes in the collegiate landscape, the opportunity to become a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference provides outstanding opportunities for our intercollegiate athletics program and the university as a whole. Our vision for Mason athletics is to be the best overall athletics program in the conference, with an emphasis on men's and women's basketball, and this is perfectly aligned with the Atlantic 10's vision and accomplishments."

In 2006, the Patriots men's basketball team earned the CAA's first at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament and its first Final Four berth. The Patriots have made a total of six NCAA Tournament appearances, three of which have come in the last seven years. That includes the 2006 Final Four run. Mason is currently playing in the CBI, the fourth postseason appearance for the school in the past six years. Women's basketball has made two postseason appearances and has sent 11 players to the professional ranks.

Mason has had more than 100 NCAA Olympic sports postseason appearances and 23 Patriot student-athletes have claimed 35 individual national championships. This includes NCAA titles in men's indoor track & field and women's soccer. Baseball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's volleyball have all made NCAA Championship appearances.

In addition to George Mason, the other members of the Atlantic 10 Conference for the 2013-14 academic year are the University of Dayton, Duquesne University, Fordham University, The George Washington University, La Salle University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Richmond, St. Bonaventure University, Saint Joseph's University, Saint Louis University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

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