VCU is moving from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic 10 this summer -- a rapid switch that has sparked criticism of the basketball powerhouse.
"This is a bold move that we at VCU have made," coach Shaka Smart told ESPN.com. "And I think there certainly are some people that don't like the move we made."
The Rams are hoping to maintain their rivalries with Old Dominion and George Mason even as they climb the conference ladder. Smart said the program had to leave this season, instead of in 2013-14, due to a CAA rule that bars exiting teams from playing in the conference tournament.
"I didn't feel like it was right to go into the locker room and tell our seniors, 'You're not going to be able to participate in the conference tournament,'" he said. "That was certainly the main reason."
The Rams reached the Final Four in 2011 and followed it up with another strong NCAA tournament showing this year. They beat Wichita State before losing in the Round of 32 to Indiana, 63-61.
Looking ahead to the conference switch, Smart said "I do think that there's a [depth] of high-quality basketball teams in the Atlantic 10 and those teams are going to continue with the momentum they have and it's going to be a competitive league."