ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 02: Kicker Max Garcia #43 of the Georgia State Panthers watches as kicker Iain Vance #97 warms up before facing the Shorter Hawks at Georgia Dome on September 2 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Late in the NCAA Tournament, there were plenty of rumors floating around that George Mason and VCU were going to leave the Colonial Athletic Association for the Atlantic 10. While those moves have yet to come to fruition (and likely won't), the CAA no longer remains untouched by the recent wave of conference realignment. That's because Georgia State, who joined the Association in time for the 2005-06 academic year is headed back to the Sun Belt Conference for 2013-14. Yes, "headed back" is the correct phrasing, as the Panthers were a charter member of the Sun Belt back when it formed in 1976 before moving to the Trans-America Athletic Conference, now known as the Atlantic Sun), seven years later.
Georgia State's move leaves the Colonial with 11 all sports members and nine in football, as the Panthers will play just this season as a member and Rhode Island is moving its football team to the Northeast Conference for the 2013 season. On the other hand, the Panthers' arrival will push the Sun Belt's football membership to 11, one short of the number needed to set up a conference championship game, and the lineup for other sports to 12 (Arkansas Little Rock will be the only non-football member after Denver's pending shift to the WAC.) Of course, membership stability will continue to be a question for the Sun Belt, particularly as Conference USA and the Mountain West (or a combination of the two) -- and the WAC for that matter -- will all be looking to boost their respective memberships in the coming months. The bidding war could be unexpectedly fierce between the four leagues.
As for Georgia State, their NCAA hopes in basketball and other sports may be non-existent for 2012-13, as the CAA may forbid the school from participating in conference championships during its final year. If that's the case, the CAA Tournament in Richmond may feature as few as nine teams next March, as Towson and UNC Wilmington are both set to be APR casualties in the coming season.
I've updated the Conference Changes For 2013-14 page with this information.