The Atlantic 10 turns 40 this season. It began in 1975-76 as the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League, aka the Eastern 8. Charter members included Villanova, Duquesne, Penn State, West Virginia, George Washington, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh and Rutgers with men’s basketball as its only sponsored sport.
There have been many changes over the years. The name Atlantic 10 arrived in 1982, and the current membership includes 14 teams — Davidson, Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Mason, George Washington, LaSalle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s, St. Louis and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU). The conference sponsors eight men’s and 11 women’s programs, including basketball.
Some of the nation’s premier athletes played in the Atlantic 10, including Olympic gold medalist Brianna Scurry. A-10 assistant commissioner Drew Dickinson helped highlight some of the top names and moments from A-10 history:
- On Feb. 8, Temple becomes the first Atlantic 10 men’s basketball team to be ranked No. 1 in the country. They held the ranking into the NCAA Tournament, where they were a No. 1 seed and lost to No. 2 Duke, 63-53. Coach Don Chaney earned national Coach of the Year honors.
- Temple’s Mark Macon is named national freshman of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and UPI. He is also named a first-team All-America by the John R. Wooden Award committee and Basketball Times. Macon averaged 20.6 points per game that season, and 20.7 in his four year career. He was the eighth pick in the 1991 draft, and played six seasons in the NBA for Denver and Detroit. Macon played overseas before beginning a coaching career, which ended in 2012, when he was fired as head coach from Binghamton University.
- Rutgers’ Sue Wicks is named the national women’s basketball player of the year. Named All-America in her first three seasons, Wicks swept Player of the Year awards her senior year. Wicks holds the Rutgers records for points scored, rebounds, scoring average, rebounding average, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, and blocked shots. The scoring and rebounding totals are records for either gender at Rutgers. She helped the U.S. team win a gold at the 1987 Pan Am Games, played professionally overseas and in the WNBA, and coached at Rutgers and Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Rutgers’ Alexi Lalas earns the 1991 Hermann Award as the nation’s best men’s soccer player and earns a spot on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team. Lalas left to concentrate on the U.S. national team, for whom he finished with 96 caps in nine years. Lalas earned the 1995 soccer athlete of the year award after starting in and playing every minute of the U.S. team’s four 1994 World Cup games. Lalas played a year in Italy before playing in the MLS from 1996 to 2004.
- Massachusetts becomes the first A-10 team to advance to the Women’s College World Series, marking the first of three trips the Minutewomen softball team will make. Led by coach Elaine Sortino, UMass records a second consecutive undefeated run through the league. But unlike 1991, UMass broke through their NCAA regional to make a run to third place in the nation. Barb Marean led all hitters with a .452 batting average, while Holly Aprile notched an 18-4 mark with a 1.23 ERA.
- In the first year of sponsoring women’s soccer in the A-10, UMass advances to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Jim Rudy, who had guided Central Florida to the women’s soccer Final Four in 1982, became the only women’s collegiate soccer coach to lead two schools to the national semifinals with the 1993 Minutewomen. His goalkeeper, Briana Scurry, won the nation’s top goalie award, and went on to win two Olympic golds and a World Cup title with Team USA. Nicole Roberts and Rebecca Myers led the team with 31 points apiece.
- Massachusetts pitcher Danielle Henderson earns the Honda Award as the nation’s best softball player. The right-hander pitched six no-hitters and two perfect games, earning first-team All-America honors and a third consecutive A-10 Pitcher of The Year award and pitcher’s Triple Crown. She amassed 30 wins, and led the country with 465 strikeouts (which led the nation). Her 105 scoreless innings streak from March 16-May 2, is still the NCAA record. Henderson won a game for gold-medal winning Team USA in the 2000 Olympics, and began a coaching career the next year. She was named head coach at UMass-Lowell in 2014.
- Massachusetts’ Marcus Camby becomes the first A-10 men’s basketball player to be named national player of the year. Camby averaged 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game that season, leading UMass to the Final Four. He left UMass after that season, and was selected second overall in the 1996 NBA Draft, the highest pick in A-10 history. In an 18-year NBA career, Camby won Defensive Player of the Year honors once, made four all-league defensive teams, and led the league in blocks four times.
- Xavier senior David West, the three-time A-10 men’s basketball Player of the Year, is the consensus national player of the year. West won two of the five player of the year awards with averages of 20.1 points and 11.8 rebounds. He became just the second player in Xavier history to achieve 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Drafted 18th by New Orleans in the 2003 NBA draft, West earned all-star honors in 2008 and 2009 and currently plays for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
- Saint Joseph’s crafts an undefeated regular season (27-0 start), and both SJU and Xavier make the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Saint Joseph’s Jameer Nelson, the consensus national player of the year, is featured on the cover of the Feb. 16 edition of Sports Illustrated.
- Josh Duncan scores a career-high 26 points despite foul trouble to lead Xavier to a 79–75 victory over West Virginia to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, where the Musketeers lost to UCLA (above). UCLA lost to eventual runner-up Memphis.
- On June 2, the A-10 names Bernadette McGlade (above) the fifth full-time commissioner in conference history. McGlade succeeded Linda Bruno, the first female commissioner of a major college conference.
- Devin Oliver (above) and the Dayton Flyers defeat Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight where they lost to Florida. Florida lost to eventual national champion Connecticut.
- VCU’s baseball team became the first from the A-10 to reach the NCAA Super Regional. The Rams, in their third A-10 season, won their first conference tournament championship.
Photos courtesy of the Atlantic 10 Conference