INDIANAPOLIS — Butler is leaving the Horizon League to join the Atlantic 10, beginning with the 2013-14 season.
Butler President James M. Danko made the annoucement on Wednesday. “Butler University is pleased to be the newest member of the Atlantic 10 Conference,” Danko said. “The universities in this conference are strong academically and they value the student-athlete experience. Butler fits well with them and we look forward to being part of their tradition of excellence.”
The move will cover all Butler athletic teams except football, which will remain in the Pioneer League, and women’s golf. The A-10 does not host women’s golf, so Butler will look to another conference for that sport.
Danko said the move makes sense for Butler academically and financially. The A-10 ranked third among all Division I conferences in the most recent NCAA graduation rates, with 89 percent of student-athletes graduating.
“Moving to the Atlantic 10 allows us to associate and compete with institutions with outstanding academic profiles and values,” Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier said. “They value the experience of the student-athlete.”
Although some competitions may be further in distance, the out-of-class time for our student-athletes will be reduced because many A-10 games are scheduled for weekends and not all schools in the conference play each other every year.
The Atlantic 10 is looking to replace Temple, which will join the Big East in all sports other than football in 2013-14. The football team will begin playing football in the Big East this fall.
A-10 officials are reportedly interested in adding three schools — Butler, George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth — following Temple’s departure.
All three have played in the men’s Final Four since 2006, but the Bulldogs are the only one of those three to reach the championship game. Butler lost to Duke in the 2010 title game when Gordon Hayward’s half-court heave bounced off the rim in Indy. The Bulldogs then lost to Connecticut in the 2011 championship game when they shot just 18.8 percent from the field.
If all three make the move, the 14-team Atlantic 10 would grow to 16. The move reunites Butler with four rivals from the old Midwestern Collegiate Conference — Dayton, Duquesne, St. Louis and Xavier.
Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone said Wednesday that the conference is among “25 NCAA Division I conferences whose membership has been impacted by realignment over the past two years.”
“We are proud of the role the Horizon League played in providing a platform for Butler to significantly improve its athletics programs and achieve the highest level of national competitiveness in men’s basketball,” he said. “We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.”