The Collegian
Friday, June 21, 2024

Change of scenery: Spider Football set to switch conferences in 2025

The football team currently competes in the Coastal Athletic Association Conference, a league the Spiders have been a part of since 2007. Courtesy of Richmond Athletics.
The football team currently competes in the Coastal Athletic Association Conference, a league the Spiders have been a part of since 2007. Courtesy of Richmond Athletics.

The University of Richmond announced on May 14 that its football program will be joining the Patriot League beginning in the 2025 season. 

The football team currently competes in the Coastal Athletic Association Conference, a league the Spiders have been a part of since 2007. Before then, UR was a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference from 1997 to 2006. With women’s golf set to join the A-10 this upcoming season, football will soon be the only UR Division I sport not in the A-10. 

UR President Kevin Hallock and Director of Athletics John Hardt first announced the news in an email to the campus community.

“After an extensive analysis following the 2023 football season, we concluded that a move to the Patriot League for football was right for Richmond for several important reasons, all of which affirm our strong commitment to Spider Football and the success of our student-athletes,” Hallock and Hardt wrote.

The email cited that the Patriot League aligned with UR from both an athletic standpoint and an academic standpoint, and even outlined a geographic angle with regard to the conference switch. 

“Athletically, Patriot League football provides an outstanding opportunity for our team to compete annually for league championships and FCS playoff appearances,” Hallock and Hardt wrote. “Academically, the schools of the Patriot League are among the top institutions in the country and share Richmond’s commitment to academic excellence. Geographically, many of our alumni live in close proximity to Patriot League schools, and this will provide more opportunities for our fans to support Spider Football.”

UR has had quite the successful tenure in the CAA as of late. In both the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the Spiders qualified for the FCS Playoffs. In 2022, the Spiders finished 9-4 overall and made it to the second round, ultimately losing to Sacramento State University. 

This past season, the Spiders also finished 9-4 overall and defeated the College of William and Mary in their regular season finale to win the Capital Cup, as well as a share of the CAA Championship alongside Villanova University and the University at Albany. UR ultimately lost to Albany in the second round of the playoffs. 

While W&M will remain the CAA, the Spiders still intend to still hold the Capital Cup game in the future, like the two programs have since 1898. 

“We are committed to continuing our annual tradition and rivalry game with William & Mary,” Hallock and Hardt wrote. “The Spider community recognizes the importance of ‘The Oldest Rivalry in the South,’ and having the chance to win the Capital Cup will continue to be an integral part of the Spider Football experience.”

Now, at this time next year, the Spiders will embark on a new journey in the Patriot League. Even with a conference change, though, UR’s priorities remain the same. 

“We’re changing leagues,” UR Head Coach Russ Huesman said in a press conference. “We’re going from the CAA to the Patriot League, but nothing else changes. Our mentality is to win conference championships, to make runs in the playoffs and to work to win a national championship again for the University of Richmond.”

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The Patriot League currently consists of seven schools – Georgetown University, Lafayette College, Holy Cross University, Colgate University, Fordham University, Lehigh University and Bucknell University. The only two games that sit on the Spiders’ schedule for the 2025 season are matchups against the University of North Carolina and Virginia Military Institute. 

Now the Spiders will have a chance to add soon-to-be fellow Patriot League schools to their schedule for the 2025 campaign. 

“The University of Richmond’s committed to providing our student-athletes with the best opportunities for success both in the classroom and on the field, as well as preparing them to lead lives of purpose,” Hallock said in a press conference. “We believe the Patriot League is a great fit for our program and we look forward to the coming years.” 

The Spiders will open the 2024 campaign and their final season as members of the CAA away against the University of Virginia on August 31 where UR will look to avenge the loss they took to the Cavaliers back in the 2022 season opener. 

Contact sports editor Jimmy James at jimmy.james@richmond.edu

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