BU’s move gets everyone thinking… again

Boston University is leaving America East for the Patriot League in July of 2013. That’s almost exactly a year from now and it’s going to make for one interesting final season. The biggest problem though is that it’s dragged America East right back into the conference realignment conversation. Is Stony Brook going to jump to the CAA now that BU is leaving? I don’t know, but my guess is that this move doesn’t actually change much. What it should do though is make America East very nervous.

Remember, America East currently has nine members. Once BU leaves they’ll be down to eight. Now Stony Brook’s potential departure becomes a big issue. The conference, which finished 29th overall last season, would have to add another member in order to be a viable automatic bid contender in men’s basketball. Could this lead to the addition of a school like NJIT or would America East try to grab a school from another conference, such as Quinnipiac from the NEC?

These dominoes are just starting to fall. The smaller conferences are only just starting to feel the pressure. As this move shows, many of them are still vulnerable. In fact, let’s play a guessing game with the potential stability moving forward of each mid-major conference from best to worst:

  1. Ivy League (Yeah…)
  2. Missouri Valley Conference (Could add members?)
  3. West Coast Conference (If Gonzaga won’t leave, why would anyone else?)
  4. Atlantic 10 (Made its move, solidified and is ready to go on.)
  5. MAAC (10 teams that just seem to fit perfectly together)
  6. MAC (Football and geography makes them oddly stable.)
  7. MEAC (Stay together, stay strong.)
  8. SWAC (Ditto.)
  9. Big West (Added Hawaii, logical safe haven.)
  10. Big South (Just can’t see UNC-Asheville leaving.)
  11. Ohio Valley Conference (Adds Belmont, but could others leave?)
  12. Atlantic Sun (Belmont’s leaving, who rises?)
  13. Patriot League (Adding BU means nine schools, another coming?)
  14. Horizon League (Butler’s gone, will league re-entrench or splinter?)
  15. Big Sky (Added members, but rumors are out there.)
  16. NEC (On the rise, but vulnerable to poaching in conference rich Northeast.)
  17. Colonial Athletic Association (VCU, ODU and GSU created upheaval.)
  18. Southland (Is WAC getting ready to pounce?)
  19. Summit League (Could Horizon use them as launch pad?)
  20. Southern Conference (CAA rumors keep popping up.)
  21. America East (BU’s gone, now what?)
  22. WAC (One more raid away from disaster.)
  23. Sun Belt (Football conference with dangerous ties.)
  24. Great West
  25. Independents (most have found a way out)

That’s my guess anyways. Aren’t lists fun? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

6 thoughts on “BU’s move gets everyone thinking… again

  1. I believe the Big South is potentially on shakier ground in terms of stability than what how it ranks on your list. Liberty has already announced it wants to move up to FBS, and Coastal Carolina is also looking for a new league, probably the CAA or SoCon (whether either of those two conferences would want CCU is debatable).

    Also, if the CAA takes a team from the SoCon (like the College of Charleston), it’s possible that the SoCon would grab a Big South non-football school to take the CofC’s place. High Point might be a consideration.

    However, another possibility could be for the SoCon to replace any departing members with a school from the Atlantic Sun — either former SoCon member East Tennessee State or Mercer.

    Also, I think the WAC is already a disaster, after all the moves. The Sun Belt is in better shape, and could eventually add two more schools.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts. I am worried about the Sun Belt losing some more members to C-USA or something similar, but I kept moving the WAC further and further down the list. Apparently I did go too high with the Big South. That’s good to know. Thanks for the insight!

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  2. It probably would not be a surprise if Quinnipiac jumped at an offer from the America East for a couple of reasons: (a) AE is New England-centric, (b) it has the reputation of having pretty solid schools academically (which is how the QU administration would prefer to see itself — similar to the motives that prompted the BU status-seeking move to the Patriot), (c) QU has plowed a lot of dough and attention into its sports programs (which practically warrants that they examine a potential move to what they see is a higher-ranked league with more exposure appropriate to their investment so far), and (d) a QU move to the AE may be seen as a great consolation prize after coming so close to the Big Dance several times as an NEC school. In a nutshell, it may be so attractive from a perceived prestige and exposure standpoint that QU won’t be able to pass it up. Key point — if offered!!! With their academic pedigree, however, NJIT may a better fit with the schools in the America East, but it still is a relative fledgling as far as Division I is concerned. The America East just came off of a trying break-in period with newbies Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook. I’m not so sure that they want to do it again so soon with NJIT, which has shown some promise, but still has not yet reached a comfort level as far as its athletic program.

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  3. A slot finally opened up….previously they wanted to add another school but couldn’t because of AE-10 which is tied to USS Sangay ( check up at wikipedia to see what that really means ) ….. now’s the real time to add a suitable school….. it remains to see whether they will more profile oriented or sports-strength oriented….

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    1. It took me a long time to get this, but Wikipedia certainly helped. We’ll see what AE does with it’s new slot. Obviously there are lots of questions.

      I’m going to explore the question of what’s better long term for everyone in a later post, but if Stony Brook were to leave now it’d be a big blow.

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  4. If there was a school in the NEC that would consider a move to the America East, I think it would be Quinnipiac. No question the AEC would be ecstatic to get a school like Quinnipiac to replace departing Boston U. I feel though, and I know people might disagree, that a move from the NEC to the AEC isn’t much of a move, in terms of conference status. In fact, I would argue that leaving at this point from the NEC to the AEC would probably be a mistake. The NEC, even though it still holds that low-level mid-major status, you can argue is more on the way up than the AEC is. If the AEC loses Stony Brook too than you would have to look at the AEC as a weaker conference to the NEC. I think Quinnipiac is looking for brighter lights and the AEC won’t cut it even though geographically, it works. Yet, status-wise the AEC is no different if not slightly lower than the NEC I feel. Also, the AEC is a much more spread out conference than the NEC, going from Maine to Baltimore, which equals more travel which is always a concern for schools. Quinnipiac would love to get into a conference like the MAAC I would think but they shouldn’t hold their breath. I think, NJIT and the AEC should be already working on the prenup to the marriage right now. The AEC may not be crazy about bringing in NJIT but they might not have much choice in the matter and they better start thinking about doing it sooner rather than later.

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