Leaving the CIAA a mistake for these schools?

March 10, 2008


 The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference brought its basketball tournament here three years ago with high expectations. Growth, publicity and income were all but promised to the league, which would send its champion to the NCAA Tournament.

Three years later, on the eve of its final tournament in Raleigh, the MEAC is about to leave town; neither of its Raleigh winners advanced past the play-in game in the NCAA field of 65; and the Division I league is looking for a new home.

The MEAC will hold its final Raleigh tournament today through Saturday at the RBC Center. There will be some parties to attend, but many here aren’t weeping about the tournament’s impending departure.

“It lacks the excitement of the CIAA, the events or school participation. You have A&T, but besides them … you have to go to Virginia or D.C. to find a school,” said Bowden, whose shop has posters of Shaw and St. Augustine’s, both nearby CIAA schools. “It doesn’t have the appeal it needs.”

The CIAA is a NCAA Division II conference, the MEAC is a Division I. Many of the teams in the MEAC are former CIAA members (Hampton, Norfolk State, N.C. Central). Yep, the MEAC tournament hasn’t generated nearly the buzz, attendance (and money) as the CIAA tournament has after it moved from Raleigh, but the important thing here is the”neither of its Raleigh winners advanced past the play-in game in the NCAA field of 65″ fact. The MEAC is likely the worst conference in NCAA Division I basketball based on the past two years. Is it really better for these school to have “moved up” for a chance at the money in D-I?

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