The Atlantic 10 Conference was able to avoid the seismic shakeups started by the Southeastern Conference, but has finally succumbed to the realignment wave. Butler University has agreed to defect from the Horizon League and join the Atlantic-10 in all sports for the 2013-14 season.
Located in Indianapolis, Ind., the Bulldogs have been a target for the Saint Louis University men’s basketball schedule over the past few years, according to Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The program rose to national prominence and established itself as a power among mid-major schools in 2010 and 2011.
Led by Head Coach Brad Stevens, who boasts a career .777 winning percentage, Butler crashed the NCAA tournament and advanced to the National Championship games in both years, but eventually lost to Duke and the University of Connecticut.
Butler University President James Danko released a statement praising the academic and athletic excellence of the Atlantic-10. “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,” Danko said.
Stevens spoke highly of the change, according to a USA Today report.
“It’s something that’s very good in a lot of ways,” Stevens told USA Today. “I trusted our leaders to make this decision because they really, truly have a great vision for where we need to go.”
Currently, the Atlantic-10 is set to remain at 14 teams for men’s basketball. Butler will replace Temple, who is defecting to the Big East Conference in 2013-14.
SLU Director of Athletics Chris May said that Butler is a “high quality institution” and noted the proximity between the two schools. Geographically, Butler is the closest school to SLU in the conference.
“It’s great news for the Billikens,” May said. “We’re certainly adding a high quality institution into the Atlantic 10 and it helps geographically. It’s great for the program and great for the league. We added a really good team that’s a bus ride away.”