Rumors and whispers of local college conference membership shuffles could see the light of day beginning Wednesday, when George Mason's Board of Visitors holds its final scheduled meeting of the school year.
Mason and VCU are considering a jump to the Atlantic 10 Conference from the Colonial Athletic Association, as Old Dominion ponders an invitation from Conference USA. VCU's Board of Visitors is scheduled to meet Friday, while the executive committee of ODU's Board of Visitors meets Monday.
VCU and George Mason seek upgrades for their men's basketball programs from a CAA that some within the respective camps view as excessively football-centric in recent years. ODU sees C-USA as a potential home for its upwardly mobile football program, as well as most of its other athletic teams.
VCU and Mason honchos have been noodling a move for months, while ODU's decision was accelerated by realignment elsewhere that created openings and a frenzy of movement one step below the marquee league level.
The Big East picked off Temple from the A-10 and Memphis, Houston, SMU and Central Florida of Conference USA, after losing Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia to the ACC and Big 12, respectively. In addition, the Big East also added Boise State and San Diego State for football only.
The A-10 recently added Butler and awaits decisions from VCU and Mason. Conference USA last week announced the addition of five schools, including Charlotte and its fledgling football program from the A-10.
C-USA presently sits at 13 schools, with ODU as a possible 14th. It could be on its way to 16 schools and two divisions that are a bit more geographically compatible than the overall footprint that stretches from West Virginia south to Florida and west to Texas and Oklahoma.
C-USA commish Britton Banowsky said last week that the goal was to get to an even number "larger than 13" but that the league could exist at 13. He said the league would need to know by June 30 if it was going to add a 14th member for the 2013-14 season. That means ODU could have another seven weeks to decide, though few think it will take that long.
ODU's athletic budget is compatible with the newly-constituted C-USA, though football will require major upgrades in a move from the Football Championship Subdivision to Football Bowl Subdivision. According to U.S. Department of Education figures for 2010-11, the most recently available period, ODU spent $5 million on football, while C-USA's eight current members spent an average of $8.2 million on football, ranging from Marshall's $6.2 million to Rice's $12.2 million.
The DOE's Equity in Athletics figures provide a comparative snapshot of athletic departments and budgets, but by no means are the definitive measure, since many schools log revenues and expenses differently.
Anyway, a list of ODU's athletic budget and those of the 13 present and future C-USA members. These numbers, rounded up, are for entertainment purposes only.
School Total Exp. Total Rev.
ODU $27.3 mil $29 mil
ECU $31 mil $32.6 mil
Marshall $23.4 mil $24.7 mil
UAB $25.1 mil $25.1 mil
S.Miss $20.4 mil $20.4 mil
*Charlotte $13.7 mil $13.7 mil
FIU $24.6 mil $24.6 mil