Old Dominion and Georgia State will be excluded from CAA tournament

It shouldn't be difficult for players at Old Dominion and Georgia State to figure out who's to blame next March when they're sitting on their couches during championship week rather than participating in a conference tournament.

Point the finger at the administrators at their respective schools.

Both schools knew one of the consequences of leaving the Colonial Athletic Association was their exclusion from the 2013 conference tournament, which determines the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, both decided to bolt anyway, banking on the CAA to show leniency and grant them a reprieve from the longstanding by-law prohibiting departing members from participating in league tournaments.

The CAA instead stood its ground, announcing Tuesday that it has denied formal requests from ODU and Georgia State to remain eligible to compete in conference championships during the 2012-13 season. As a result, neither of them can make the NCAA tournament next season unless they earn an at-large bid.

"The conferences Bylaws were well understood and evaluated when the institutions made their decision to withdraw from the conference," CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said in a statement. "While we respect an institution's decision to withdraw, it is not without consequences that the institution must accept."

There's no question the CAA could have eliminated a petty rule that denies athletes the right to compete for a championship, but every school knew the league was unlikely to do that. The league acted in the interest of its remaining members in 2001, applying the same rule to American University, East Carolina and Richmond following their withdrawal from the CAA. 

VCU knew this would likely become an issue, so it avoided a lame-duck year in the CAA by talking the Atlantic 10 into taking the Rams a year ahead of schedule. Neither Georgia State nor Old Dominion were forward-thinking enough to get that done with the Sun Belt or Conference USA, leaving them in the predicament they find themselves now.

With VCU gone, Old Dominion and Georgia State not participating and Towson and UNC Wilmington ineligible due to poor APR scores, the CAA tournament will only feature seven teams next season.

The teams that will benefit from this in the short term are George Mason and Drexel. As much as they both may miss ODU and VCU in the long run because the league will be weaker, they'll also have a great chance to win a watered-down league tournament and secure an NCAA bid.

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