Butler swaps conferences early

The question still lingers as to why Butler University made the decision to move to the Atlantic 10 conference a year earlier than planned, regardless of whether it was for the best.
President Jim Danko announced on May 2 that Butler was moving to the A-10 from the Horizon League.
“We considered many aspects and came to the conclusion that this was the best move for the athletic program and the university as whole,” Danko said.
Just a month after the initial announcement, the decision was made to switch conferences immediately, rather than wait until the 2013-14 academic year like originally planned.
“When you decide to leave for another conference, you obviously think that’s a benefit to you, and this way we are only benefitting a year early,” athletic director Barry Collier said.
The fact remains that the decision was made quickly–a month after the initial decision to play an additional season in the Horizon League before moving.
Virginia Commonwealth, or VCU as it is more commonly referred to, was in a similar situation.
VCU announced it was moving from the Colonial Athletic Association to the A-10 just two weeks after Butler did.
The university petitioned for early entrance into the conference as result of a CAA bylaw that would prohibit any Ram’s sport from participating in conference championships.
This could potentially hinder VCU’s chances of appearing in the NCAA tournaments, which was a concern, considering its men’s basketball team has played in four of the last six NCAA tournaments, including five since 2004.
There was speculation from a source with knowledge of the situation that Butler would have faced similar penalties.
However, a contractual agreement between Butler and the Horizon League prevents details of the exit from being revealed.
After the announcement was made last May, Horizon League commissioner John LeCrone said that the league does not have a bylaw preventing a departing member from competing in conference championships like the CAA does.
President Jim Danko did hint, however, that other Horizon League presidents wanted an immediate departure.
“I don’t think the presidents wanted us to have a swan song in their arenas,” Danko said. “It was like a divorce—the quicker we get out of the house, the better.”
Bill Benner, senior associate commissioner for external affairs for the Horizon League, had no further comments regarding the move, citing the agreement between the league and Butler to keep any information confidential.
Butler had been a member of the Horizon League since 1979. The league was previously known as the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and the Midwestern City Conference prior to that.
Collier said that both parties had discussions about what would be best for everyone and that the decision was made to separate immediately.
A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said Butler contacted the A-10 with a petition for early entrance.
“We were made aware of a challenging situation that would have made it difficult (for Butler) to remain in the current conference,” McGlade said.
McGlade said she could not comment on the specifics of the situation.
“The unexpected circumstances that precipitated Butler’s request to move immediately were unfortunate, but the decision to accept Butler was an easy and unanimous one,” McGlade said.
The relationship between Butler and the Horizon League will continue, however.
There is a chance that Butler fans could still see rivalry games being played between Butler and members of the league.
“We are open to the possibility of continually scheduling those teams, but there is no formal agreement between us,” Collier said.
All Butler teams will begin competing immediately in the A-10 with the exceptions of football, which is remaining in the Pioneer Football League, and women’s golf, which will participate in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

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