MEETING MCLAUGHLIN

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Ed McLaughlin was introduced as VCU’s sixth athletic director Tuesday. “…I think VCU is a place where we can win a national championship.”

RICHMOND, Va. – Niagara’s Ed McLaughlin was introduced as the sixth athletic director in VCU Athletics history Tuesday. He succeeds Norwood Teague, who had held the post since 2006, but recently took the same job at the University of Minnesota.

We’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to know Ed in the coming weeks, but here are some highlights from his press conference and our breakout sessions today:

Ed McLaughlin isn’t afraid to dream big or make bold statements, laying out his vision for the athletics department Tuesday.

You have the ability here to take a success story and make it something incredibly special. There are a lot of people in this business, a lot of ADs that take jobs, but not a lot of them can say when they wake up, ‘We can win a national championship here.’ It’s inspiring, and I think VCU is a place where we can win a national championship.

Obviously the level of success that some of our programs have had demonstrates that. That’s what excites me the most, the chance to do something incredibly special.

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BRAVE NEW WORLD

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RICHMOND, Va. – After weeks of speculation and soft, dodgy denials, VCU President Dr. Michael Rao saddled up to the podium Tuesday at the Verizon Wireless Arena and announced the Rams would be moving to the Atlantic 10, effective July 1. He may have also lit the fuse on the dynamite at Colonial Athletic Association headquarters, but that’s a discussion for another time.

What we should talk about is why this move is good for VCU, as many believe it is, myself included (obvious institutional bias aside).

First, let’s be frank about this. Men’s basketball is the catalyst for this. Yes, the logistics of other programs are important to this discussion, but without men’s hoops, this would have been just another Tuesday in May.

After a run of five NCAA Tournament bids, two NIT appearances, a Final Four, four conference titles and seven NCAA wins (and four close losses) since the 2004-05 season, VCU felt it had reached a ceiling with the CAA. In an effort to keep the program on an upward trajectory, Rao, VCU Interim Athletic Director Dave Benedict and the Board of Visitors jumped at the A10 opportunity.

Here’s why:

1-Level of competition: While the CAA has enjoyed recent success, it was undeniably top-heavy. There’s a clear divide of haves and have-nots in the league. You all know who you are. The A10, which is losing Temple and Charlotte in 2013-14 but adding Butler, has produced 20 at-large NCAA bids since 2000. Over that same span, the CAA has produced four. I could stop writing there and be good, but I’ll go on…

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