Coastal poised to make big move from Big South to CAA

Trickle-down economics are great, unless you’re the one at the bottom everyone is trickling on. The same theory applies to conference affiliation.

The past three years have seen a deluge of colleges jumping ships for a more sea-worthy vessels like the ACC and SEC, while schools left stranded on the abandoned ships run the risk of going under, like the Big East.

Now the chain of conference switches has trickled down to the FCS level, and Coastal Carolina faces major decisions about if and when to jump and where and how to land. Just this week has thrown the Chants a series of curveballs.

On Monday, Liberty announced it is leaving the Big South Conference to pursue football on the FBS level, making itself available to mid-major conferences that are looking to add a football-playing partner in the future.

On Tuesday, Virginia Commonwealth announced it is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the Atlantic 10, followed by Old Dominion’s decision to exit the CAA in favor of Conference USA. Suffice it to say, bad week for the CAA.

The moves did two things to alter Coastal’s current situation: The Big South suddenly looks less attractive and stable without Liberty, and the CAA is in the market for a couple of football-playing members to fill in the ranks.

Give credit to CCU President Dr. David DeCenzo for having his ear to the ground on this one. No matter how you feel about the handling of the David Bennett situation, he did put the Chants in position to make a quick move if needed.

Granted permission by the Board of Trustees to make the call, Coastal can snap up an invitation before another college snatches it off the table. There are several schools and scenarios that can and will result from this week’s moves.

Expect things to happen sooner rather than later. With the timing coming at the end of the school year, there’s pressure to make a switch before the July 1 deadline to give one year’s notice and avoid paying any possible penalties. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have an announcement by June.

I’m on the record as preferring the Southern Conference over the CAA for several reasons. The proximity of SoCon schools (four in South Carolina, nine in the Carolinas) not only provides bigger rivalries but also cuts down on travel costs.

But with SoCon expansion currently on hold, Coastal would come out ahead by joining the CAA rather than stick with the Big South. Despite being a founding member since 1983, Coastal can’t risk playing in a football conference without an automatic bid.

Coastal is an attractive candidate for conferences in need of a new member. The men’s basketball, baseball, golf and soccer and women’s softball and golf programs can compete at a higher level. Football is the only big question mark, and Coastal has demonstrated that it’s willing to spend money and make bold moves to improve.

But Coastal has serious competition for the two CAA openings. Maine, New Hampshire and Stony Brook (currently a Big South football-only member) to the north and SoCon members College of Charleston and Davidson to the south are already in the rumor mill.

Coastal could gamble that the CAA fills up and leaves an opening in the SoCon, or pursue and accept a bid to the CAA, or stay with the Big South. But at least the Chants are in position to be pro-active and not have their fate determined for them.

In the current collegiate-sports environment where a trickle has become a flood, you don’t want to miss the boat.

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2 responses to “Coastal poised to make big move from Big South to CAA”

  1. mark Gray says:

    Hopefully they will get in and have a year or two to transition because otherwise the football & basketball teams will get killed .They need a recruiting class or two to be competitive I hope people realize this and do not blame the new coach.I do not think any of the big south teams really draw fans to home games maybe CAA will be a improvement.

  2. observer says:

    They won’t be competitive in basketball. That is a program that hasn’t been to the dance since the early 90’s.

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