While the Colonial Athletic Association will have seven teams compete in this weekend’s 34th annual conference tournament in Richmond this weekend, one of the league’s most storied basketball programs unfortunately won’t be a part of the competition’s festivities.
After 22 years as a member of the CAA, the Old Dominion Monarchs will leave the conference this spring to realign as a member of Conference-USA.
The Monarchs have been a college basketball program since the 1930-1931 season and played their first year of Division I basketball in 1976-1977. However, Old Dominion really became synonymous with the CAA over the past two decades.
Frankly, the CAA without ODU is like peanut butter without jelly, Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen and a season of ABC’s The Bachelor without the line “she’s not here for the right reasons.”
During their time in the conference, ODU won six CAA Tournament Championships—more than any other program–along with five regular season conference titles and they’ve represented the CAA in the NCAA Tournament seven times.
In another true testament to ODU’s dominance in the conference throughout the years, the Monarchs won every all-time head-to-head series with each of the other 10 teams in the Association this season.
Yet with all this glitz and glamour that is permanently enshrined throughout ODU’s facilities, the Monarchs’ residence in the Association ended on a sour note.
An embarrassing 3-15 in CAA play this season, the Monarchs fired head longtime head coach Blaine Taylor mid-season after some questionable appearances on local radio shows and rumors that he had lost his locker room. A team with just two seniors, ODU also underwent a youth movement this season and the team’s overall immaturity and inexperience showed early and often on the court.
“It was a long year,” interim head coach Jim Corrigan said following his team’s season finale victory over Northeastern. “These guys have been through a lot. They had a lot of tough losses all season long where we were right there in a lot of games but just couldn’t get it done.”
But despite Old Dominion’s losing record this year, it was just the fourth losing record the Monarchs had in their entire 22 years in the CAA. Overall, the Monarchs were 232-132 in CAA conference play. That impact the program had on the conference as a whole should never be forgotten.
“It was the worst of times and the best of times this year,” sophomore forward Richard Ross said. “ODU is a program full of rich history. Hopefully we can just take this year for what it was and move on, never let it happen again and continue to be successful.”
ODU has a rich history indeed. A program that has featured the likes of Ronnie Valentine, Odell Hodge, Anthony Carver, Chris Gatling and most recently Kent Bazemore, the Monarchs have had a bevy of college basketball dynamos rock the classic state blue and silver uniforms.
Thus, while the Monarchs won’t be present at this weekend’s CAA Tournament, the masses that will flock to Richmond Coliseum shouldn’t just focus on what promises to be a very entertaining competition on the court. People in touch with the CAA, and fans of basketball in general, should also remember what an impact ODU made on the Colonial and how deeply the program will be missed.
After all, what’s a PB&J sandwich without the jelly?