This year, the Atlantic 10 celebrates its 45th anniversary.
Throughout the course of the year, the Atlantic 10 will recognize the achievements and milestones that have made the 14-institution league what it is today, a nationally competitive, academically focused diverse conference.
The league has seen tremendous change and growth through its four and a half decades of existence, and that includes bringing in new and vibrant member institutions into the league. Today’s look back will focus on membership milestones – who was added and when. This retrospective will focus on the league as a whole, and will not address the football history that includes a decade (1997-2007) of affiliate members
As the Atlantic 10 has grown and changed membership, its logo has changed with the times. See the progression of the A-10 logos at right.
TRIVIA: There are two founding members that left the A-10, only to return a very short time later. There is a third founding member which returns as a football playing member as well. Try figure out the three schools in the list of membership milestones below (the answer is at the end of the article)
The Atlantic 10 forms in 1975 as the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League, beginning play in 1976. Basketball was the only sport the league’s eight teams played that first year. Founding institutions included current members Duquesne, George Washington and Massachusetts, as well as Penn State, Pittsburg, Rutgers, Villanova and West Virginia.
The league added sports and changed its name to the Eastern Athletic Association. It’s commonly called the Eastern 8, which gave birth to the “Hoopster Rooster” logo and the “Something to Crow About” slogan.
A shift in membership over the next four years brings in current members St. Bonaventure (1979), Rhode Island (1980) and Saint Joseph's (1982), as well as long-time member Temple (1982). Penn State, which was a founding member of the league moved to independent status for three years before rejoining as a full member in 1982. The league, now with 10 members, adopts its current name, the Atlantic 10 Conference.
There is no change in membership for nearly a decade, but in 1991, Penn State becomes independent again and in 1992 Duquesne leaves for a single year to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. The Dukes return for good in 1993.
A major change in membership lays the foundation for the league as we know it today. Dayton, Fordham, and La Salle all join the Atlantic 10, as do Virginia Tech and Xavier. This brings the total number of teams to 12, a league record.
Richmond becomes a full member after joining the league in 1997 as a football affiliate member. UR was one of 10 football affiliate members that joined the league that year. Villanova also returned to the A-10 as a football affiliate
The league expands again, adding Charlotte and Saint Louis to bring the total number of teams to 14 for the first time in A-10 history.
VCU and Butler join the Atlantic 10 just two years removed from Final Four appearances, and the league membership swells to 16 for a single year. As conference realignment sweeps college athletics touching almost every league, the A-10 focuses on strong basketball programs with a history of success to successfully navigate the changing landscape.
The Atlantic 10 welcomes in George Mason. The year concludes with a record six bids to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, just shy of half of the league membership, making waves nationally and showcasing the Atlantic 10's continued success as a basketball-centric conference.
The league adds Davidson, the final piece of the realignment puzzle and returns to 14 member institutions. The Wildcats immediately prove their standing in the league by winning the men's basketball regular season.
2015 to current
Stability and a commitment to excellence in all areas allows the Atlantic 10 to continue to build on its years of academic prowess and national success in men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports. That success was showcase in 2019-20 when Dayton men's basketball captured the hearts of the country with a No. 3 AP ranking at the end of the season.
“It’s truly amazing to me that in this era of league restructuring, the Atlantic 10 Conference continues to sustain its excellence. The league has not only maintained its presence as a basketball power, but has added to its prestige with a number of NCAA Tournament participants that have performed at an extraordinary level the last few seasons.”
La Salle graduate Bill Raftery on the A-10’s 40th birthday, following conference realignment
TRIVIA ANSWER: Penn State (left in 1979 to be independent. Returned in 1982) and Duquesne (left in 1992 to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League). Returned in 1983). Villanova (left in 1980 to form the Big East. Returned as football affiliate member in 1997).