NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—The Atlantic 10 Conference Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to formally accept Butler University's application for membership the league announced Tuesday.
Butler, a nationally recognized private comprehensive university with a premier athletics program, will join the A-10 on July 1, 2013. The Bulldogs field 17 of the A-10's 21 championship sports and will begin competition in those sports starting with the 2013-14 academic year.
"The Presidents of the A-10 member schools could not be more enthusiastic about adding Butler University to our conference," said Father Michael J. Graham, Xavier University President and Chair of the Atlantic 10 Council of Presidents. "Butler is a distinguished institution of higher education, it takes the academic success of its student athletes seriously, and its athletic programs have achieved notable success. In these ways and more, Butler University will enhance the values the A-10 presidents all strongly affirm. We are excited as well to be able to add Indianapolis to our conference footprint and look forward to beginning competition with Butler in 2013-14."
The addition of Butler is part of a five-year Strategic Initiative that the Atlantic 10 adopted in November of 2010. The first of five core principals in the initiative was conference membership. Within this core principle is the charge that the A-10 consider and evaluate membership applications based on institutional profiles in multiple areas, including academics, athletics and geography. Butler's profile in these primary areas meets the high standards set by all current A-10 member institutions.
"Welcoming Butler University as the newest member of the Atlantic 10 Conference is an honor and privilege. Institutionally, they are a perfect fit for the league and bring a tradition of excellence in academics, athletics, integrity and personnel," stated A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. "As a conference driven by national prominence in men's basketball, Butler further strengthens our league. Complementing their success in men's basketball is a broad-based sports program that will compete well in the A-10."
The Atlantic 10 adds a historically successful men's basketball program in Butler to what is already the best basketball-driven conference in Division I. The only non big six conference to have 41 at-large NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament selections in the past 20 years, including three in 2012, the A-10 has boasted 62 postseason appearances in the last decade. For the fifth year in a row, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned at least three bids and multiple at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament. Over the last six years, the Atlantic 10 has had 12 at-large selections – the seventh most among all other Division I conferences. A record eight A-10 institutions received invitations to the 2012 NCAA and NIT postseason tournaments, more than all but two conferences.
Butler, a NCAA Final Four participant in two of the last three years, will be the seventh A-10 program with at least one appearance in the Final Four. The Bulldogs have been to the NCAA Tournament in five of the past six years and have advanced past the first weekend in three of those years. In all, Butler has 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament, and in five of those the Bulldogs have advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond. Eight of those 11 trips have come since 2000. The Bulldogs have seven straight 20-win seasons and have had a winning season in 18 of the last 19 years.
"Butler University is pleased to be the newest member of the Atlantic 10 Conference," Butler President James M. 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 joining their tradition of excellence."
Academically, Butler's strong profile is consistent with the rest of the Atlantic 10. Academics is a hallmark of the A-10, and the league ranked third among all Division I conferences in the most recent NCAA graduation rates with an incredible 89 percent of student-athletes graduating. Butler's latest GSR score was in step with the 12 A-10 institutions that garnered a score of 80 percent or better.
"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."
Atlantic 10, one of the premier women's basketball league in the country, gains a program on the rise. Butler women's basketball has made three post season appearances in the last three years and had four straight 20-win seasons. A-10 women's basketball placed seven teams in the post season this year and has put 31 teams in postseason play over the past four years.
Butler also has had similar success to the A-10 in Olympic sports. The league has earned multiple NCAA bids in several sports, including a trip to the NCAA Men's Soccer finals by Charlotte, and at-large bids in men's and women's soccer and volleyball. Butler, which sponsors 19 sports, nine for men and 10 for women, has had recent Olympic sports success in multiple trips to the NCAA men's soccer sweet 16, NCAA appearances by the Bulldog baseball team and a national championship caliber cross country team.
During the 2011-12 season, Atlantic 10 men's basketball conference teams played on television over 350 times, a record in the 36-year history of the league. One of just five conferences to have its men's basketball championship air on network television (CBS), the A-10 currently has partnerships with CBS and ESPN. The league will enter negotiations in the summer of 2012 for a new media rights agreement. Butler's entry into the league will coincide with the beginning of the new media rights deal which follows the league's 2013 men's basketball championship move to the state-of-the-art Barclays Center, a new NBA arena in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Butler adds the Indianapolis market to one of the most impressive media footprints in all of Division I. The Atlantic 10 institutions reside in cities that comprise 21 percent of all American television households. There are nine A-10 schools in the top 25 media markets in the country and all 14 institutions are within the top 65 markets. Indianapolis currently ranks as the 26th largest media market.
The move also extends the Atlantic 10's midwestern footprint, joining the University of Dayton, Saint Louis University and Xavier University.