David Moulton, a freelance writer for the Naples Daily News and co-host of the Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon radio show on ESPN radio 101.5, said it first and he’s right.
FGCU has outgrown the Atlantic Sun Conference.
FGCU athletics was arguably the best overall athletics program in the conference over the last two years.
Volleyball won the regular season title last fall. Both women and men’s soccer won the conference championship and earned NCAA births. The men’s basketball team finally looks like a championship team and is tied for first in the conference. The women’s basketball team hasn’t lost a conference game in two years and hasn’t had more than nine losses in its history. Oh, and our swimming and diving team is looking for their fifth straight Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association championship.
But wait, there is more.
Softball became the first FGCU team to win an NCAA tournament game when they defeated Florida last year in the NCAA regionals. They also just hosted the number one team in the nation and almost beat them. Baseball defeated second-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee 5-1, then seven days later they defeated sixth-ranked Miami in Coral Gables.
It’s time to move on. But then the question becomes, where to? That is difficult to answer because FGCU has no plans on getting a football team anytime soon; that really narrows down where we can go.
The number of “basketball conferences” is very, very slim and most of them are in the Mid-West or up north. Last year, Belmont made the right move and moved to the Ohio Valley Conference, which is a much stronger basketball conference and it fit geographically better for them.
The aspect that hurts FGCU are those six words that hurt to type: We don’t have a football team. Because of that, conferences such as the Conference USA and Sun Belt would simply look over us. Big conferences, such as the ACC and SEC, wouldn’t even consider us. And nobody wants to be in the Big East anymore.
Conference realignment is an ever-changing thing that has become a regularity in college athletics. It’s a double-edge sword for FGCU. As many of these “football conferences” expand and look for new TV markets and new ways to make money, our little school gets passed over.
And with that, FGCU is limited to conferences that would even consider them without a football team. The most realistic choice for FGCU is the Southern Conference. The SOCON does have football but not all members play. The College of Charleston is leaving for the Colonial Athletic Association (another great choice for FGCU), which leaves the SOCON searching for a 12th team.
The SOCON and the A-Sun are similar. School sizes in the SOCON are similar to those of ones over five states (Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina), which aren’t terrible for FGCU to travel to and from.
So let’s encourage Mr. Kavanagh and President Bradshaw to look at the other options outside of the A-Sun.
Well, A-Sun it was fun while it lasted.