Butler to join A-10 next season

Brad Stevens will match wits with Phil Martelli and Dr. John Giannini when Butler joins the Atlantic 10. (Eric Gay/AP file photo)

Butler University will join the Atlantic 10 a year earlier than expected.

The Bulldogs, who were among the Horizon League’s founding members in 1979, reached the NCAA Tournament basketball finals in 2010 and ’11. They announced earlier this month that they would be joining the A-10 for the 2013-14 season before deciding that it would be best for both the university and the league to depart immediately.

“The unexpected circumstances that precipitated Butler’s request to move immediately were unfortunate, but we will welcome Butler into the A-10 as a valuable new member,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.

Virginia Commonwealth might have influenced Butler’s decision when it announced on May 15 that the Rams will leave the Colonial Athletic Association to join the A-10 in July. Another factor could have been that the Horizon League was not going to let Butler compete for league titles or in conference tournaments this season, ESPN reported, citing a source.

The A-10 will compete with 16 teams for the 2012-13 season, including Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Temple. The Owls will be competing in their final A-10 basketball season before departing for the Big East in 2013.

“The Atlantic 10 has the potential to have the strongest year in league history in 2012-13 with 16 outstanding programs,” McGlade said.

The league could divide into two eight-team divisions. A spokesman said those discussions would take place among the presidents and athletic directors.

Butler finished 22-15 last season and reached the CBI tournament semifinals after failing to earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in six seasons.