It's one thing to wish for grandeur, but it's entirely different when it shows up on your doorstep.
Butler announced earlier this month that it would be leaving the Horizon League for the more prominent – and certainly more challenging – Atlantic 10. Bulldog men's basketball coach Brad Stevens spoke at the time that he would begin studying how best to prepare his program for success in the new league. He was going to analyze Butler's future budgets, recruiting, scheduling, and facilities, essentially reassessing every facet of his program.
Study time is over.
Butler and the Atlantic 10 both announced on Tuesday that the Bulldogs would join the league immediately, rather than wait for the 2013-14 school year.
“We are grateful to the Atlantic 10 for welcoming us into the fold a year ahead of schedule,” Butler athletic director Barry Collier said in a statement. “Since announcing our intention to depart after 2012-13, Butler and the Horizon League have discussed the terms for next season. Ultimately, it was in our best interest to reach an agreement with the Horizon League for immediate departure.”
There were no specifics given as to what expedited the Bulldogs' departure, however, ESPN reported that it was related to the Horizon League informing Butler that it would be ineligible for post-season conference play next year. When asked earlier this month about this very thing occurring, Collier said that he didn't anticipate that being the case.
Well, things obviously changed.
Stevens no longer has a 17-month grace period to address any areas of concern and his next basketball practice will be in preparation for battling the likes of Temple, Xavier, Dayton, Virginia Commonwealth, Saint Louis and four other programs that won 20 games this past season.
The Bulldogs will participate in the 16-team league this season, but with the departures of Temple and Charlotte following this upcoming season, the league will drop down to 14 teams. The Bulldogs currently are in the midst of filling three open dates on the 2012-13 schedule.
“The unexpected circumstances that precipitated Butler's request to move immediately were unfortunate,” Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said. “But we will welcome Butler into the A-10 as a valuable new member. The Atlantic 10 has the potential to have the strongest year in league history in 2012-13 with 16 outstanding programs.”