FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — George Mason president Tom O'Connor says it's "bittersweet" to be leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the Atlantic 10.
GMU announced Monday it is switching conferences as of July 1.
“Our partnership with the Atlantic 10 aligns with our core commitments as we move into the next phase of this university’s impressive journey,” George Mason President Angel Cabrera said in a statement.
GMU was one of the founding members of the CAA, but O'Connor said the changing landscape of college sports prompted the move. Two of Mason's regional rivals — Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond — previously departed for the A-10, and the switch also sets up a subway conference rivalry with nearby George Washington.
GMU is paying an exit fee of $1 million and will forfeit at least $1.65 million in conference payouts. University President Angel Cabrera said the move will pay for itself "in as little as five years."
The move leaves the CAA with nine schools for 2013-14.