There is good and bad news for Georgia State athletics as two big-time announcements regarding the athletic program have been made over the past 24 hours. Starting with some unfortunate news, the school announced that the Colonial Athletic Association has denied the overruling of a long-time conference bylaw that keeps schools departing the conference from competing in postseason play in all sports.
“Despite this setback, we hold strong to the belief that the future is bright for Georgia State athletics” the school announced in a press release. “While our teams are not eligible to play in CAA Conference Championships, the door is not closed on postseason opportunities including NCAA at-large berths.”
Despite the verdict, the school is now looking into speeding up its membership into the Sun Belt Conference which, if successful, could come as soon as fall of this year. Old Dominion, which is departing the CAA for Conference USA, has also been levied the same punishment. Virginia Commonwealth University by-passed the bylaw by accepting membership into the Atlantic 10 Conference beginning with the upcoming 2012-13 school year. GSU and ODU will still be considered part of the conference and will play a CAA conference schedule, but will not participate in postseason play.
The CAA, which has been widely considered to be one of the top mid-major basketball conferences in the country, now faces tough times ahead as three of its most successful programs are departing the conference, leaving teams such as Drexel and George Mason as the likely contenders for the conference basketball title. Panthers’ coach Ron Hunter expressed his disappointment in the verdict and told his players, despite the conference’s decision, to enter next season with extra motivation.
“We made a move for football. And we’re paying the consequences.” Hunter told ESPN.com. “From this point forward, we’re an independent basketball team.”
Despite the disappointing news, Hunter announced that the school has added two huge non-conference basketball dates for next season as they will travel to the historic Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils on Nov.r 9, with the game being nationally-televised by ESPN. Just four days later, the Panthers will travel to BYU to take on the Cougars in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Without being able to play in a postseason conference tournament, Hunter had wanted to put together a tough non-conference schedule in order to give the team something to build off from last season, when the Panthers posted a 22-12 record.
“I wanted the first two games to be in two of the hardest places in the country,” Hunter told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It won’t go any harder for the young guys for the rest of their career.”
The announcement of the Duke and BYU games, along with the football program traveling to Knoxville to take on Tennessee, continues GSU’s trend of adding games against major-conference opponents. Over the past few seasons, men’s basketball has had games against programs such as Washington, N.C. State, Florida State, and Georgia Tech, while football travelled to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide in the inaugural season of 2010.