There will be an Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball tournament in 2021. There are now a couple of things known about it.
The tournament, scheduled to be played March 10-14, will be hosted on one of its members campuses, and that campus will not be the University of Massachusetts.
The A-10 announced on Thursday that the Men’s Basketball Championship will be moved from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to the campus of one of the 14 schools that make up the conference. Speculation quickly mounted on social media about which school would host. UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford quashed any of that speculation.
“Can confirm we will not be hosting,” Bamford wrote in a text message to The Eagle.
In a release Thursday, the conference announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic environment, the A-10 will relocate the tournament. Conference officials said it was in agreement with Barclays Center officials.
“The A-10 has a great relationship with Barclays Center and BSE Global, thus deciding on this relocation was bittersweet as we have had exciting games and our student-athletes have had first-class experience,” Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade said in a statement. “The challenges presented by COVID-19 and the ability to host this event on campus provides the league with operational efficiencies, established local health departments relationships, and a familiarity of conference COVID-19 protocols.”
The release from the Atlantic 10 did not say if fans would be permitted at games.
The Atlantic 10 Tournament returned to Brooklyn in 2019 after spending a year in Washington, D.C., when the Atlantic Coast Conference held its tournament at Barclays. The A-10 was just ramping the 2020 tournament up when it was canceled due to the pandemic.
The Capital One Center in Washington will host the 2022 tournament, as the ACC will return to Brooklyn for 2022. The Atlantic 10 will return to the New York City borough for the 2023 and 2024 tournaments.
“Although we were excited to once again host the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship, we completely support the conference’s decision to host the event at a single campus site,” said John Abbamondi, the chief executive officer of BSE Global, the company that operates Barclays Center. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Atlantic 10 Conference and working together to bring the best college basketball to Brooklyn when the championship returns to Barclays Center in 2023.”
This will be the first time since Dayton hosted the tournament in 2004, that the entire A-10 championship had been held at an on-campus site.
“We are fortunate to have first-class arenas throughout the A-10, with strong administrative and operational staff on campus,” McGlade said, “giving the league numerous options for a member institution to host.”
Dayton could be in line to host because of its long experience hosting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship First Four event, an event Dayton will not be hosting this year. That’s because the entire men’s championship will be played in Indianapolis, Ind., and its environs.
Perhaps the most logical spot to host would be in Richmond, Virginia. The A-10 is already set to have its Women’s Championship played at VCU’s Siegel Center March 3-7. The Siegel Center holds 7,637.
The A-10 could split games between VCU and the 7,000-seat Robins Center on the University of Richmond campus.
Philadelphia, with Atlantic 10 members Saint Joseph and La Salle, could also host the tourney. Saint Joe’s Hagan Arena holds 4,200 fans. La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena holds 3,400.
The Atlantic 10 was not the first conference to move a postseason basketball tourney to an on-campus site.
The Colonial Athletic Association moved the men’s basketball tournament from Washington to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. JMU opened a new arena this season.
All 10 conference teams, including Northeastern, will play in the CAA Tournament.