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Sports Business

Conference merry-go-round poses problems for Butler

December 14, 2012
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Butler University could be leaving the Atlantic 10 just a few months after becoming a member.

And I could be the next president of the United States.

I love the news business. I’ve been a part of it for nearly a quarter century. Sometimes it can be like a good game of telephone—you know, the game where you whisper something in someone’s ear and 10 whispers later the last person in line hears something completely different.

Earlier this year, Butler announced it was bolting the Horizon League for the A10. The A10’s future is suddenly tenuous, having been given a set of wobbly legs by the constant college conference merry-go-round.

The Big East is imploding and a few refugees from that conference want to start a new conference of non-Football Bowl Subdivision programs. There’s been talk that Butler, Xavier, St. Louis and Dayton could also become members of the new conference. Word is that the new conference might well play its conference basketball tournament in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Now wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants for the Indianapolis-based Horizon League?

That’s a whole lot of speculation. And while I love speculation as much as the next guy, it should only go so far.

This week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing anonymous sources within Marquette University, reported that Butler University could leap from the sinking A10 and swim for a new as-yet-unnamed conference.

Subsequent stories, many citing the Journal Sentinel story, reported that Butler would join the new conference. Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier is mum on the subject and men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens said he has not heard any plans for the school to defect from the A10.

So what are we to believe?

In my book, “could” is a step weaker than “may,” which is still a long way from “will.” “Could” merely connotes that something is within the realm of possibility. How we got from “could” to “would,” I have no idea.

What will Collier do?

This is what I know about Collier: He’s a reasoned fellow. He knows what’s going on in college athletics. While he might have made a misstep by joining the A10 in such a tumultuous time, I don’t expect him to compound the program’s problems.

So he’ll listen to all offers and watch carefully how this unfolds before deciding where Butler should land.

Will Butler stay in the A10? I suppose that's possible, if there’s an A10 to stay in.

Will the Bulldogs join the new conference? A solid possibility, if it forms as anticipated—and an invitation is extended. And the new conference is deemed stronger than whatever is left of the A10. That's a whole lot of 'ifs.'

Can Collier afford to stick his head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening?

No. That much is certain. And if he tries that, it would be the most foolish move of all.

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