Conference change creates new rivals

Butler University athletics will face a change in competition following its the early departure from the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

They also expect to rise to the occasion.

Administrators said they feel that Butler teams will still be top competitors in the A-10, as they were in the Horizon League for many years.

“With all of the aspects in mind, we came to the conclusion collectively that it was the best move for everyone,” athletic director Barry Collier said.

The A-10 is quickly becoming known as the premier mid-major conference in men’s college basketball.

Tom Crowley, associate athletic director for internal affairs, said the men’s basketball team will compete night in and night out, but he expects other Bulldog teams to perform well.

“We can’t know for sure until it happens, but we believe all of our teams can compete in this league at a high level,” Crowley said.

The A-10 consistently sends multiple teams to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, including four last season. But basketball is not the only competitive sport. The conference had 26 postseason appearances in different sports in 2011-12 seasons.

Highlighting postseason appearances was Charlotte’s national runner-up finish in men’s soccer and the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team making the Sweet Sixteen. Xavier’s men’s basketball team also made the Sweet Sixteen in the basketball tournament, further solidifying its prominence in the Midwest.

Five of the members in the A-10 conference used to be in the former Midwestern Collegiate Conference with Butler. LaSalle and Duquesne had short stints in the conference while Xavier, St. Louis and Dayton were more long-term.

Collier said this will help form significant regional rivalries and solidify the current rivalry with Xavier.

“Clearly the Xavier game has been of national interest to ESPN and college basketball and is probably the reason that most people see that as a big rivalry,” he said.

Tom Eiser, an associate athletic director at Xavier, said proximity itself helps the rivalry.

Eiser expects the A-10 to remain competitive from top to bottom in many sports.

Bernadette McGlade, A-10 commissioner, said the rivalry between Butler and Xavier is significant but that they are not the only two teams that will be competitive.

“The beauty of this league is that, overtime, you will see new rivalries develop as the teams become familiar,” McGlade said.

Butler baseball coach Steve Farley expects his team to continue to compete in the new league. He said they don’t know a lot about the new East-Coast teams, but scouts are working on preparing the team.

Farley said their goal is to finish in the top seven of 13 teams and make the conference tournament.

The A-10 will have 16 teams this year before returning to a 14-team league in 2013-14 with the departure of Temple and Charlotte.

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