On Tuesday, college sports fans were treated to some pretty big conference realignment news. Loyola Chicago and the Atlantic 10 announced that the Ramblers would be joining the league for the 2022-23 school year.
#A10Family, @LoyolaRamblers— Atlantic10Conference (@atlantic10) November 16, 2021
Combining exceptional academics + nationally competitive athletics, Loyola Chicago will become the 15th member of the Atlantic 10 in the 2022-23 academic year.
: https://t.co/2PkoCBqix7 pic.twitter.com/SIQDZNTOnt
This is notable for Big East fans, as it clearly means that Loyola Chicago will not be considering an attempt to get to Marquette’s conference any time in the future. In fact, CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander went straight ahead and actually said that following the A-10/Ramblers news. Here’s the notable part from Norlander’s article on Loyola heading to the A-10 and what comes next for the Missouri Valley Conference, Loyola’s home since 2013:
One source told CBS Sports that Loyola Chicago had been privately making its pitch to join the Atlantic 10 since the early summer. While it wasn’t a deciding factor, one source said the trio of schools the MVC is currently considering weren’t nearly enticing enough to make Loyola Chicago hesitate with its decision to jump to the A-10.
Sources also said the A-10 is not in danger of losing any of its 14 members, meaning that conference will enlarge to 15 starting next July.
Not only is Loyola not heading to the Big East, but no one currently in the Atlantic 10 is going to be moving, either. If that “not in danger of losing any members” part in there didn’t make it completely obvious, Norlander went ahead and said the quiet part out loud on Twitter:
At this point, the Big East is happy at 11 schools. (And the A-10 is thankful for that.) My read: Barring circumstances shifting, the only school the Big East sees as a true plus addition for its marketability is Gonzaga. There are challenges to making that a reality. We’ll see.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 16, 2021
Loyola, Saint Louis, Dayton, and VCU were the four most likely candidates that came up when Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told The Athletic that she would be asking her schools’ presidents to at least think about the possibility of expansion. There appears, at least at this point about a month after Ackerman brought up the topic, zero interest in expanding with any of those immediately obvious possible candidates.
Even more to the point, it seems that the analysis of Ackerman’s statements that we made a month ago on these digital pages was correct: If you aren’t going to make Fox Sports give the Big East another $1 million or more a year per school, there’s no reason to expand. The only athletic program that fits the bill? Gonzaga.
However, that decision isn’t up to the Big East. It’s up to Gonzaga leadership to decide whether or not they want their shortest road trip for conference action to be 1,300 miles to Creighton. There’s ways to make it work, but Gonzaga doesn’t need the Big East to be a national title contender, either.