Not all change is a good thing, as the Coastal Athletic Association shows

Citing an adjustment in geography to its membership, the one of America’s best mid-majors makes an unnecessary change

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Image: CAA

Are we sure this isn’t April Fools’ Day? About two weeks away from when Division-I football teams open fall camp, one of the best FCS conferences and overall D-I mid-majors across the country changed its name. And not only does the shift not make sense, it’s a straight-up repetitive name that doesn’t stand out in the college sports landscape. Formerly the Colonial Athletic Association, we now have the repackaged Coastal Athletic Association, with the change in name due to the league’s changing membership and geography. Now that a whopping four of the school’s 14 full-time members are within striking distance of the East Coast!

I get that change is usually uncomfortable, but making moves for the sake of moving, or to get notoriety is uncomfortable because it stinks, not due to being recently exposed. Maybe I’m a Puritan because my alma mater, Towson, has the third-longest history in the conference of any current member, and is one of only two schools within the CAA’s borders to be a founding university. Colonial straight-up sounded better, was more original, and gave legitimate credence to the league’s footprint. When you hear colonial, you think of the territory of the original 13 colonies, duh. And that’s where a heavy majority of the schools in the CAA are. What’s there to be confused with in the college sports space for the word colonial? Congratulations, if you also knew it was George Washington’s mascot, you’re probably also from the DC area, and you’re not like 99 percent of sports fans.

We are the Coastal Athletic Association

How many things are there to be confused with for coastal? Let’s start with Coastal Carolina, the Coastal Division in the ACC, and Florida Gulf Coast University to name some. Also, which coast are you referring to? The conference’s leadership knows, but it could be on any border of the country! Names like the West Coast Conference and Big South Conference, where Coastal Carolina used to play, are boring, but they give the casual sports fan an idea of where the schools are. Names like the Sun Belt and Conference USA are less geographically contained, but have built up credibility thanks to years of on-field results, and notoriety from being at the FBS level of football. The CAA has neither luxury.


The league wasn’t founded as the CAA, but distances itself from 38 years of history with a name change. George Mason’s 2006 run to the Final Four was in the Colonial, same with VCU’s First Four to Final Four maneuver five years later. Both later departed for the Atlantic 10, an easier move as neither university has a football team. James Madison was a staple in the league too and jumped to the Sun Belt last year to get more limelight in FBS football after being one of the FCS’ best teams for the last decade. And who can forget the Dukes’ 2021 run to the Women’s College World Series? That happened representing the Colonial. Maybe we’ll get used to not calling the CAA that, or “The Coastal” will somehow become fun to say. For now, it’s hard to comprehend why this was needed without a total overhaul of the branding and logo. It starts with Co, ends in L, and has some a’s in it. But it’s not at all the same.