March 09, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) The Colonial Athletic Association has selected Joe D'Antonio as its next commissioner.

D'Antonio, who begins his new role on July 1, comes to the CAA from the Big East, where he is the senior associate commissioner for administration and NCAA relations. He is replacing Tom Yeager, who will retire on June 30 after serving 31 years as the only commissioner in the league's history.

In his current role at the Big East, D'Antonio has oversight of the conference's internal operations and its interaction with the NCAA. His duties include overseeing the league's compliance department and the Olympic sport championships department, and working as a liaison to Big East athletic directors.

D'Antonio, 48, also has served on several NCAA Division I committees, and spent eight years working in athletics administration at Providence.

He was chosen after a search that attracted several viable candidates, said James Madison President Jonathan R. Alger, who chaired the selection committee.

''Joe really stood out with his strong sense of vision and strategic planning, his knowledge of, and his deep involvement with, the evolving national landscape and his combination of campus, conference and national experience,'' Alger said on a conference call Wednesday.

Alger and D'Antonio both paid tribute to Yeager, with D'Antonio saying he was a good friend who has the respect of everyone in college athletics. Yeager has agreed to remain as a consultant for the next year, and D'Antonio said he considers Yeager will be a ''tremendous resource'' going forward.

D'Antonio also said the new power structure at the FBS level that gives five power conferences autonomy bears watching to see how it impacts lower level college programs. He is confident FCS level football will always have a place in college athletics apart from the breakaway conferences.

''I see the FCS brand becoming stronger even than it is right now,'' he said. ''Football can be a galvanizing aspect on any campus. Right, wrong or indifferent, America loves football and we will be proud and we will celebrate the fact that football is part of the CAA spectrum and I'm very excited and looking forward to the opportunity to grow that brand going forward.''

CAA members include Charleston, Delaware, Drexel, Elon, Hofstra, James Madison, UNC-Wilmington, Northeastern, Towson and William & Mary.

The league's separate football component also includes Albany, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Richmond, Stony Brook and Villanova.

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