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Bernadette McGlade: Atlantic 10 open to adding 16th member

The Atlantic 10 will add Loyola Chicago as its 15th member on July 1st and the league would be open to further expansion, Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade told College Hoops Today on Monday.

“We would definitely be open to adding a 16th member,” McGlade told College Hoops Today in an exclusive interview. Is there an urgency right now to do it? No. But membership is always on the agenda of every single meeting. If it makes sense from a leadership perspective and from a profile perspective, it’s something that we’re definitely open to.”

The addition of Loyola Chicago gives the Atlantic 10 — a basketball centric conference — access to an elite television market and a recognizable brand in the sport. The Ramblers advanced to the 2018 Final Four under current Oklahoma coach Porter Moser, who followed up that appearance with a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2021 before leaving the Windy City for Norman.

“Loyola (Chicago) made a lot of sense,” McGlade added. “There’s never just one thing that makes something work when you’re talking about realignment. It has to be a match. Loyola’s history, tradition, and obviously its market allowed things to truly align with everything that we were seeking.”

So which schools could be candidates to join the Atlantic 10 if the league was looking to expand?

That’s TBD.

Rick Pitino has publicly stated recently that Iona needs to join a multi-bid league. The Gaels finished 25-8 last season, but were never truly in the mix for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Atlantic 10 already has a presence in the New York City market with Fordham, but the conference has had multiple teams in the same market before and currently has two in Philadelphia with La Salle and Saint Joseph’s.

Temple meanwhile, was once the flagship program for the Atlantic 10 in men’s basketball, but multiple sources told College Hoops Today that the Owls are fully committed to building their football program in the American Athletic Conference and are unlikely to remain on the gridiron as an independent while sending their other sports to a different conference.

The Atlantic 10 reached new heights in 2013 and 2014, earning five and then six bids to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons. However, the conference has never truly regained momentum from a national perspective after switching from a 16-game league schedule to an 18-game league schedule following the 2014 NCAA Tournament. In the league’s defense, the decision by the majority of power conferences to play 20-league games has made non-conference scheduling exceptionally more difficult.

From 2015-2019, the Atlantic 10 had three teams in the NCAA Tournament for four consecutive seasons. It’s had just two teams in the bracket during each of the last three NCAA Tournaments. The Atlantic 10 would have only had one team — Davidson — qualify for the 2022 NCAA Tournament if Richmond didn’t beat the Wildcats in the Atlantic 10 Tournament title game to earn an automatic qualifier.

The buzz surrounding the Atlantic 10 from a coaching perspective is better than it’s been in years.
UMass’ hire of Frank Martin combined with Rhode Island’s hiring of Archie Miller along with Fran Dunphy’s return to Big 5 basketball at La Salle has created a palpable buzz around in the league in the Northeast and beyond. Martin led Kansas State to the Elite Eight in 2010 and South Carolina to the Final Four in 2017. Miller meanwhile, had great success during his tenure at Dayton and led the Flyers to the Elite Eight in 2014. Dunphy has 580 wins in his career and was a combined 80-32 in Atlantic 10 regular season games in seven years at Temple from 2006-13.

Those additions combined with strong returning cores at Saint Louis, Dayton, VCU, and Davidson have provided the Atlantic 10 with a better vibe nationally than it’s enjoyed in quite sometime. The Billikens, Flyers, and Rams are all currently ranked in the ROTHSTEIN 45.

Now comes the hard part for the conference: capitalizing on its newfound momentum.

Who knows, it may be with a 16th team.

Leftovers

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