INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Small-school Butler could soon be making a big move.
The NCAA tournament darling is reportedly debating whether to leave the Horizon League for the stronger, higher-profile and potentially more profitable Atlantic 10.
Bulldogs athletic director Barry Collier met Monday with his coaches, part of a regular meeting process he has with athletic department employees. Spokesman Jim McGrath said Collier declined to comment on what was discussed at the meeting or where the decision-making process stands.
”We’ve been longtime members in good standing of the Horizon League and we continue to examine the ever-changing landscape of conference affiliation,” McGrath said.
The Indianapolis Star first reported that university President James Danko notified trustees in a letter that the school had been conducting a cost-benefit analysis of changing conference affiliations. Coaches have been fielding questions, too, and trustees have been told not to discuss the possibility of a move that has caught the ear of Horizon League officials.
”Our commissioner, Mr. (Jon) LeCrone, has been in contact with the president and athletic director and they’ve not said anything to him,” Horizon League senior associate commissioner Bill Benner said Monday. ”As far as we know, the status is quo.”
Butler’s board of trustees is scheduled to meet May 9-10 and this month’s staff assembly general meeting is slated for May 16.
Danko did not immediately respond to an interview request from The Associated Press. Neither did Butler board of trustees Chairman Craig Fenneman or A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade.
The Atlantic 10 is looking to replace Temple, which will join the Big East in all sports other than football in 2013-14. The football team will begin playing football in the Big East this fall.
A-10 officials are reportedly interested in adding three schools — Butler, George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth — following Temple’s departure.
All three have played in the men’s Final Four since 2006, but the Bulldogs are the only one of those three to reach the championship game. Butler lost to Duke in the 2010 title game when Gordon Hayward’s half-court heave bounced off the rim in Indy. The Bulldogs then lost to Connecticut in the 2011 championship game when they shot just 18.8 percent from the field.
If all three make the move, the 14-team Atlantic 10 would grow to 16. It would also reunite Butler with four rivals from the old Midwestern Collegiate Conference — Dayton, Duquesne, St. Louis and Xavier.
The Horizon League currently has 10 members with Green Bay (approximately 400 miles) being Butler’s longest trip in conference play. If the Bulldogs join the A-10, they would travel regularly to Charlotte, N.C., Massachusetts, Fordham in New York City, Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia and Virginia.
All of those trips would exceed the distance to Green Bay, making Butler’s potential move more costly.