Posted: 8:33 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013
By Parks Smith
No conference has been hit harder by realignment than the Colonial Athletic Association. The Mid-Major ranks, arguably, top conference has lost cornerstones VCU, Old Dominion, and George Mason and has also seen Georgia State leave for the Sun Belt. Now it seems that James Madison and, maybe, Delaware may be on the verge of also bolting.
This summer JMU was openly courted by the Sun Belt Conference, but the Dukes seem like the interest was only one way. Rumors also swirled this summer about "secret" meetings in Fredericksburg, Virginia that Old Dominion, JMU, and Delaware were meeting to campaign for Conference USA membership or perhaps even start their own conference. It's hard to separate truth from rumor, but message boards swirled today with chatter that JMU could move to Conference USA as soon as October 5.
James Madison is wrapping up a study to confirm what we already know, the Dukes are likely heading for the FBS football ranks. October 5 will likely be a ceremony to celebrate and release the findings of this study. From various sources I have spoke to it seemed as if the Dukes would start scheduling some Conference USA members in football the next couple of years and transition into the conference over the next three years.
Conference USA and Old Dominion's Athletic Director Wood Selig are both denying anything on the horizon for JMU.
CUSA Associate Commissioner Courtney Morrison-Archer said the following:
"Conference USA is evaluating future membership but has no plans to expand in the near future," via the Virginia Pilot
"The mutual feeling was that we’re going forward with 14 schools. We’re in good position. Our focus is how to make Conference USA the best conference we can be with those 14 institutions." via VP
What else would we expect from conference officials? Straight talk? Some feel as if JMU would prefer the MAC, but wouldn't the Dukes rather be with one of their state peers and traditional rivals in ODU?
Is Conference USA at 14 members? Yes. Will Conference USA have those same 14 members a year from now? No. CUSA is still the most likely candidate to be pillaged by the AAC.
Of course this move would have other ramifications across the Mid-Major landscape. Albany and Stony Brook would likely be prime candidates to move onto the CAA as full members, and then NJIT would likely find a home to help keep the America East alive.
No one is sure what will happen or when it will happen. The only thing that is certain right now is that realignment has not stopped.