RICHMOND, Va. -- VCU officially became a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, July 1.  Here's a little history lesson for Ram Nation on their new home.

On March 2, 1975, the idea of what is now the Atlantic 10 Conference was conceived.  The Eastern Collegiate Basketball League (ECBL) began conference play in 1976 as a basketball-only league with eight members - Villanova, Duquesne, Penn State, West Virginia, George Washington, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh and Rutgers.  Initially, the league was popularly known as the Eastern 8.

The first changes came about with Pittsburgh and Villanova leaving and St. Bonaventure (1979), Rhode Island (1980), Saint Joseph’s (1982) and Temple (1982) joining.  The changes created a 10-member league and the name was changed to Atlantic 10 in 1982.

Further membership changes increased the league to 14 teams.  From 1997 through 2006, the league also operated a football conference, and during that period more than 20 schools were participating in A-10 competition in at least one sport.  The football league ended when the A-10 football programs departed to join the Colonial Athletic Association.

Charter members George Washington, Massachusetts and Duquesne (the Dukes briefly left the A-10 in 1992-93) remain, along with St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s and Temple.  Dayton, Fordham, La Salle and Xavier joined in 1995, Richmond came on board in 2001 and Charlotte and Saint Louis became members in 2005.

New members Butler and VCU will increase the league membership to 16 for 2012-13.  Temple and Charlotte are leaving after 2012-13, bringing the league back to 14 members.

Today, the Atlantic 10 Conference spans nine states with a total population of nearly 75 million people.  The league sponsors championships in 21 sports:  baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s indoor track and field, women’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, women’s outdoor track and field, women’s rowing, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, softball, men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball.

The league office has been located in Newport News, Virginia, since the fall of 2009.  Prior to that, the headquarters was in Philadelphia.  Current commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade was named to her post on June 2, 2008.

Atlantic 10 Members
Butler University, Indianapolis, Ind. (Private)
UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C. (Public)
University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio (Private)
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Private)
Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. (Private)
George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (Private)
La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pa. (Private)
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass. (Public)
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I. (Public)
University of Richmond, Richmond, Va. (Private)
St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y. (Private)
Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa. (Private)
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. (Private)
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. (Public)
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. (Public)
Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio (Private)