More conference moves may lead Coastal to CAA, SoCon

It’s March Madness off the court too as the merry-go-round of conference realignment took another spin this week, and the latest twists could land on a chance for Coastal Carolina.

George Mason University announced Monday that it is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Atlantic 10 in July, ending their 28-year charter affiliation with the CAA and becoming the fourth school to exit in the past two years. On Wednesday, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are expected to announce a move from the Southern Conference to the Sun Belt Conference. Both moves open doors to potential conference switches for the Chanticleers.

George Mason’s departure from the CAA follows those of Georgia State, which is heading to the Sun Belt, and Old Dominion, which will join Conference USA. Virginia Commonwealth transferred from the CAA to the A-10 for the 2012-13 season. College of Charleston will join the CAA next year, bringing the number of members up to nine at a time when most leagues are moving to 12 institutions or more.

According to www.midmajormadness.com, Coastal is among six schools that have been linked to the CAA since the mass exodus began last year. Albany, Stony Brook, Davidson, Elon and Furman are among the schools exploring a possible switch to the CAA, which must put a premium on recruiting football-playing members. The same is true for the SoCon, which needs to beef up its dwindling football lineup.

While Coastal has discussed the possibility of conference relocation, the topic appeared to be put on the back burner after the school landed a three-year deal to host the Big South Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at the new, on-campus HTC Center. But this week’s moves are sure to re-ignite the subject not just at Coastal but throughout the region FCS conferences.

Coastal could explore an opportunity with the CAA, or sit back and wait for an opening in the Southern Conference if some of its members decide to bolt. CCU is a charter member of the Big South and may feel some resistance to leave the league it helped create, but the growth of the school’s athletic department makes it a better fit with the CAA or the SoCon.

Fittingly, the Final Four is where a lot of the behind-the-scenes scheming takes place, and then the off-the-court madness really begins. The big question is whether or not Coastal advances.

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