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The expansion of the Colonial Athletic Association to 10 teams starting in 2003 will enhance the league's academic and athletic standards, Old Dominion University President James V. Koch said at a campus press conference Wednesday.

CAA officials announced earlier in the day that the University of Delaware, Drexel University, Hofstra University and Towson University will join the conference starting in July 2003. The four newcomers, who are all currently members of the America East Conference, will join George Mason University, James Madison University, UNC Wilmington, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the College of William & Mary to form a 10-team conference which will conduct championships in 20 sports. With their arrival, women's softball and men's lacrosse championships will be established with the possibility of other championships being added in the future.

"Today marks the beginning of the new CAA spreading from New York City to eastern North Carolina," CAA Commissioner Thomas Yeager said. "The conference has experienced considerable growth since 1985 and we expect the new alignment to be a catalyst for even greater success in the years ahead."

Old Dominion University President James V. Koch agreed. "The expansion will bring CAA sports into more than 9 million households from North Carolina to New York City," he said.

Additionally, the new teams will bring Old Dominion sports to strong alumni markets for the university. Old Dominion has approximately 7,000 alumni in Baltimore/Washington, 1,500 in metro New York and 1,200 in Philadelphia/Wilmington, said John R. Broderick, vice president for institutional advancement.

Jim Jarrett, Old Dominion athletic director, noted that the additions help to strengthen the CAA and enhance conference goals of strengthening men's basketball, providing long-term protection for automatic qualification in conference sports and to continue the CAA emphasis on quality academic standards.

"The size of our conference provides the flexibility for future membership expansion when quality compatible universities, who will enhance CAA goals, are available," said Old Dominion Athletic Director Jim Jarrett.

CAA institutions have produced 15 national team champions in four different sports, 33 national champions, 10 national coaches of the year, nine national players of the year, 11 Honda Sports Award winners, 10 NCAA post-graduate scholars and five Rhodes Scholars. In 1999-2000, the CAA was the highest-rated non-BCS conference in the all sports ranking. According to data compiled by the Big 12 Conference, CAA men's teams ranked #9 while the women's programs were #13. Recently, Old Dominion captured the NCAA field hockey title while student-athlete Marina DiGiacomo received the Honda Sports Award for field hockey.

This article was posted on: December 13, 2000

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.