There was a lot of heartache handed out on Tuesday afternoon as the Colonial Athletic Association announced its decision on the postseason fates of Old Dominion and Georgia State.
The Monarchs and Panthers will not be participating in any CAA Championship events as a team this upcoming season. Individuals will still be allowed to compete, but they will never see their team's name in any standings after the end of the schedule.
The decision was held up for several days, for who knows what reason, which left open the possibility that the league voted differently than the bylaws of the conference. In the end, the status quo was upheld, to the detriment of a number of student athletes whose interests were put second by their schools.
To be fair, the schools that voted at the meeting of the Presidents continued with their precedent. The rule is on the book. It applied when schools left in 2001. It continues to apply now.
It was the impetus for Virginia Commonwealth for leaving immediately. No one last hurrah through the league, no farewell tour. Just a straight line to the door and don't look back. Adios mis amigos.
The Presidents did what they had to do. They couldn't change the rules, and it is disappointing for the schools involved.
It is hard to argue with the decision, and yet, I am torn by it. The decision for Georgia State and Old Dominion to walk away was based on football realities. The FCS is not the money maker that FBS can be, no matter how good of a conference you are in at that level. The move to the next stage of their football lives makes sense for them, even if it will come with a little pain to begin the journey.
And yet, the punishment that is brought to bear doesn't just affect football. It affects the basketball teams, the cross-country teams, the softball teams. Every player that suits up for one of those universities has their athletic future cut short because of football.
All of that leads me to believe that there could have been a compromise here. Yes, the schools that made the decision to move knew the consequences. But did they really think about anything beyond the dollar signs that come from football? And couldn't the other Presidents have been just as blind? Couldn't they have brought all the power they wield to bear on the football teams and left the other sports alone?
That is where I see the sentiment of statements like the one that Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor made:
#ODU's Taylor: "Obviously the #CAA wasn't looking out for the kids. They were looking out for themselves."— David Teel (@DavidTeelatDP) June 19, 2012
I see where he is coming from. His team is being carried along in this wave. They didn't start it like Virginia Commonwealth's basketball team. They are just the bystanders about to be covered in the mud as the football team races off to Conference USA.
That doesn't make the decision an incorrect one. There needs to be a precedent. There are rules on the books, and they need to be upheld. That no one bothered to look at them before making their decisions is their own fault. At least we know that the boys in Richmond did when they made their decision.
So yes, I get the indignation that greeted this announcement. I understand how someone could say that it needed to go a certain way because rules are rules.
But I also don't see the need to be so hard line in this decision, or to make comments such as this:
I'm on a train. If I arrive back on the Island & there are two more teams eligible for next year's #CAAHoops tourney, I'm going to be peeved— Jerry Beach (@defiantlydutch) June 19, 2012
Nor do I get saying that "sanity won out" when the final decision came down.
The vote may have been unanimous, my guess is because the Presidents looked at the rule and said, "Well, there you go." That doesn't make the decision perfect, or even correct.
There is no right answer here. Keep in mind that, "Adios mis amigos, don't let the door hit you on the way out," isn't exactly welcoming to whomever will accept the invitations that were sent out on the same day this decision was made.
And when the CAA Tournament tips off in Richmond in March, and there are just seven teams taking the floor, I think that everyone will step back and think a little about this moment in June. There was a chance to make things different, to make things more complete, to give a team one last chance to make its mark.
Because what we will get, through the combination of academic missteps and this decision, is a tournament that is a shell of what it could be.
And while a champion will be crowned -- albeit in front of what will likely be a number of empty seats without VCU and ODU in attendance -- that champion will always have an asterisk next to its name.