The “excellent addition” of George Mason University to the Atlantic 10 Conference brings to the playing field another university dedicated to both intercollegiate athletics and academic values, George Washington University President Steven Knapp said.
“Like all our A-10 institutions, they are committed to the success of their student-athletes not only on the court or the field, but equally in the classroom and the library,” said Dr. Knapp, who serves as chair of the Atlantic 10 Council of Presidents.
“On a personal note, let me say how pleased I am about the new cross-river rivalry this will create between George Mason and George Washington,” Dr. Knapp said. “Our students have already named it the ‘Battle of the Orange Line,’ referring to the Metro line that connects our campuses."
The Fairfax, Va.-based George Mason officially joins the A-10 on July 1 and begins competition in the 2013-14 academic year.
“Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 aligns with our core commitments as we move into the next phase of this university's impressive journey,” Mason President Ángel Cabrera said. “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.”
Cabrera: "This will help take the story of Mason around the nation and around the world." #MasonA10— Mason Athletics (@MasonAthletics) March 25, 2013
Mason’s addition comes at a time when the A-10 is enjoying “unprecedented strength,” Dr. Knapp said.
On track to become one of the most powerful Division I basketball conferences in the country, 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.
Academic excellence is also an A-10 trademark. The league is second among all Division I conferences in the most recent NCAA graduation rates, with 90 percent of student-athletes graduating.
George Mason, the third Virginia-based institution in the A-10 with the University of Richmond and VCU, is a strong competitor. It went to the Final Four in 2006 and has made six NCAA Tournament appearances. It has also had more than 100 NCAA Olympic sport postseason appearances, and 23 of its student-athletes have won 35 individual national championships.
Adding quality universities like George Mason has been a strong suit for the A-10—and a local rivalry can only strengthen the conference, said Patrick Nero, George Washington’s director of athletics and recreation. Men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan and women’s basketball coach Jonathan Tsipis agreed.
“We welcome our rivals from across the Potomac and look forward to competing against them in the future,” Mr. Nero said.