ASHEVILLE, N.C. — If Davidson is leaving the Southern Conference any time soon, no one has bothered to inform head basketball coach Bob McKillop.
For months, rumors have swirled around Davidson about its imminent move from the SoCon to the Colonial Athletic Association. In fact, preliminary inquiries were made by the league about the school’s interest in leaving the SoCon and becoming a member of the CAA. But Davidson’s board of trustees came out less than two weeks ago and announced they were going to stay in the SoCon.
“I know that our president, our athletic director and our board of trustees went through a process of analyzing every aspect of our position, and they came to the conclusion that the Southern Conference is the best place for us to be,” McKillop said Thursday at the SoCon’s annual Basketball meetings. “With everything that is happening in college athletics, nothing is certain and it’s hard to project what’s going to happen two years or three years down the road. But we’re solidly in the door with the Southern Conference, and I don’t see that changing.”
Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino said he’s confident Davidson will remain a member of the league.
“Davidson said they preferred not to make any public announcement about where they are with the Southern Conference or the Colonial league,” Iamarino said. “I talked with their athletic director (Jim Murphy), and I’m confident that Davidson is going to be a member of the Southern Conference for the foreseeable future.”
Last Friday, the College of Charleston’s board of trustees voted to open negotiations with the CAA about joining the nine-member conference.
However, several board members expressed their apprehension during the meeting about jumping to the CAA without a “Southern Division” in a league that stretches more than 800 miles from Wilmington, N.C., to Boston. In a report by the board’s athletic committee, the cost of travel for the athletic department would jump from $1.2 million to about $1.8 million if the Cougars join the CAA. But that was under the assumption that the CAA would have a Southern Division that included Davidson.
“Those numbers are going to have be looked at again,” said board member Jeff Schilz.
Despite the board’s vote to open negotiations with the CAA, Iamarino is still hopeful the Cougars will remain in the SoCon.
“We want the College of Charleston and Davidson to be members of the Southern Conference and we’ve met with their president to discuss ways to make the league more attractive,” Iamarino said. “We’ve made it clear to (College of Charleston athletic director) Joe Hull and President (George) Benson that we’d like for them to stay.”
If the College of Charleston board decides to remain in the SoCon, Iamarino said the league would welcome them with open arms.
“Will there be some awkward moments during some meetings? Sure,” Iamarino said. “But there’s not going to be any ill will toward the College of Charleston, because we hope they stay.”
With the departure of Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and Georgia State from the CAA, Furman basketball coach Jeff Jackson said he doesn’t believe the league is a stronger basketball league than the SoCon.
“People talk about the CAA as a multi-berth league for the NCAA tournament, but I don’t see that with VCU and Old Dominion leaving,” Jackson said. “When we’re recruiting kids against teams from the Colonial League I don’t feel like I’m recruiting against a superior league. If it was the Missouri Valley Conference or the Atlantic-10, I would feel differently, but the Colonial league isn’t at that level.”