Butler subject of conference move discussions

The Butler University campus is swirling with rumors of a conference switch.

The Butler Bulldogs are out of the NCAA men's basketball tournament this year after two straight runs to the national championship game. Now, the school is considering a move to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Butler currently plays in the Horizon League with schools like Valparaiso, Cleveland State and the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. The move to the Atlantic 10 would mean games against NCAA tournament teams like St. Louis, St. Bonaventure and Xavier.

There are reports that the Atlantic 10, who placed a total of four teams in the tournament this year, is shopping for a school to replace departing Temple University and that it is looking at Butler.

"The conferences have to be proactive, otherwise, they will not exist anymore and most of the conferences at this point have to take this sort of step to make sure they will be around," said Dr. Galen Clavio, IU Sports Marketing professor.

The allure for the conference and the courted are the same - television revenue. Butler's on-court success the last two seasons certainly makes the Bulldogs an attractive possibility.

The Butler campus is on spring break this week and no one is willing to talk about any possibility of a conference switch, but there are some things the university would have to take into consideration.

"It's not just overall budgets for recruiting and coaches' salaries. It's also things like travel," said Clavio.

Case in point, the Horizon League map is compact. But in the Atlantic 10, Butler would have to travel as far as Rhode Island, which is 900 miles away, about 16 hours by bus. That may be alright for basketball, but what about soccer, volleyball or softball?

It's a point that is not lost on the students.

"I think they should stay in the Horizon League conference. It's a really good conference, in spite of what other people say. That and the fact it is all in the Midwest, pretty close access and local," said student Stephanie Brey.

"I think which one is better to get our publicity out is going to serve the campus better," said student Matt Roth.

A easily forgotten point is that recruiting is actually not limited to athletics. Presently,Butler gets a large number of students from neighboring Illinois. A switch to an eastern-based conference like the Atlantic 10 might jeopardize that.

Another interesting part of the discussion is that the Horizon League office is actually located in Indianapolis. League policy prevents any comment on membership issues.