NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—The Atlantic 10 Conference Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to formally accept an application for membership from George Mason University the league announced Monday. The largest university in Virginia, George Mason has an enrollment of over 32,500 and fields 20 of the A-10’s 21 championship sports.
Mason, located in Fairfax, Va., will join the A-10 on July 1, 2013 and begin competition in the 2013-14 academic year. It will be the third Virginia-based institution (Richmond, VCU) in the Atlantic 10 and the second in the Washington, D.C. metro area (George Washington).
"George Mason University is an excellent addition to the Atlantic 10 Conference," said Chair of the A-10 Council of Presidents and President of The George Washington University Dr. Steven Knapp. "The Patriots share both our strong commitment to intercollegiate athletics and our academic values. We're delighted to welcome George Mason to the A-10 at a moment when the conference is enjoying unprecedented strength."
Listen to todays' press conference below:
The addition strengthens the Atlantic 10’s presence as the most successful basketball-centric conference in Division I. The league had nine members selected for postseason play in men’s basketball in 2013, including five for the NCAA Tournament, the third most of any Division I conference.
“I am honored and excited to welcome George Mason to the Atlantic 10 Conference. They are a perfect fit for our league with world-class academic programs and a nationally successful intercollegiate athletic program,” stated A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “The addition of Mason further strengthens our footprint, enhances our brand and will allow us to continue to build on our national prominence and success in men’s basketball and all sports.”
A trademark of the Atlantic 10 Conference is its academic excellence; the league ranks second among all Division I conferences in the most recent NCAA graduation rates with an incredible 90 percent of student-athletes graduating. Mason’s latest GSR scores are in step with all current A-10 institutions.
“This is an exciting time for George Mason University,” said George Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 is one that we have considered carefully and we have concluded with confidence that the time is right to join the A-10. Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 aligns with our core commitments as we move into the next phase of this university’s impressive journey. We are confident that our new partnership with the A-10 is critical to helping us build on our past with optimism for a future that influences the landscape of the national capital region and to new markets introduced to us through this valuable relationship with colleges and universities in the A-10.”
Athletically, the Atlantic 10 has had 50 at-large NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament selections in the past 25 years, including four this season. The A-10 has boasted 71 postseason appearances in the last decade. For the sixth year in a row, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned at least three bids and multiple at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament. The A-10 has had 10 institutions rated in the top 100 of the RPI for most of the season.
George Mason went to the Final Four in 2006. The Patriots have made a total of six NCAA Tournament appearances, three of which have come in the last seven years. That includes the 2006 Final Four run. Mason is currently playing in the CBI, the fourth postseason appearance for the school in the past six years.
One of just five conferences to have its men’s basketball championship air on network television (CBS), the A-10 recently signed record media rights agreements with ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network. The league also just completed its first Men’s Basketball Championship in the state-of-the-art Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“With changes in the collegiate landscape, the opportunity to become a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference provides outstanding opportunities for our intercollegiate athletics program and the university as a whole,” said Tom O’Connor, assistant vice president and director of athletics. “Our vision for Mason athletics is to be the best overall athletics program in the conference, with an emphasis on men’s and women’s basketball, and this perfectly aligned with the Atlantic 10’s vision and accomplishments.”
Atlantic 10, one of the premier women’s basketball leagues in the country, is celebrating two consecutive years of 50 percent of its membership participating in postseason play. George Mason has sent 11 players to the professional ranks and has two postseason appearances.
The A-10 has had Olympic sport success as well, earning multiple NCAA bids in several sports, including a trip to the 2011 NCAA Men’s Soccer championship game, and at-large bids in men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and men’s golf. UMass’ nationally-ranked women’s lacrosse team competed in the NCAA Championship last spring as did GW men’s tennis and Richmond’s women’s tennis.
George Mason has had more than 100 NCAA Olympic sport postseason appearances and 23 Patriot student-athletes have claimed 35 individual national championships. This includes NCAA titles in men’s indoor track & field and women’s soccer. Mason baseball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball have all made NCAA Championship appearances.
The addition of George Mason strengthens the Atlantic 10’s presence in the Washington D.C. metro area, the eighth largest media market in the country. Mason joins long-time A-10 member The George Washington University. The Atlantic 10 holds one of the most impressive media footprints in all of Division I. The addition of George Mason means there are eight A-10 schools located in the top 25 media markets in the country and every institution is located in the top 65 markets.