In the midst of another surprising NCAA Tournament run, the Butler Bulldogs have informed local officials that they are exploring a move to a larger market that can raise the team's profile and merchandising opportunities.
"Sports at this level are a business," said Butler athletic director Barry Collier. "And we have to make the best business decision for our team. We have established ourselves as a premier program and bigger markets have come calling. We're hot right now. It's not the time to sit still."
Butler is currently located in Indiana, seven miles from Indianapolis — a mid-sized city in the Midwest — but is now weighing offers from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, among other locations.
"I love it here," said Butler head coach Brad Stevens. "But imagine the media coverage we'd get having this success in New York. Not to mention what they could pay me there. I know it would definitely be enough to keep me at Butler for a long time."
Butler would instantly dominate the New York college basketball scene currently populated by mediocre St. John's, Rutgers and Seton Hall. But similar opportunities exist in Los Angeles where USC and a sliding UCLA play, as well as Miami — home to the poor Miami Hurricane program — and Chicago, which is saddled with Northwestern and DePaul.
University officials do not want to see the Bulldogs go and are considering moving the entire university out of Indianapolis to the team's desired location.
"We don't want to lose them," said Butler University president Bobby Fong. "We can pretty much load up one moving truck and be set. We'll take our university sign and some desks and chairs and maybe a few microscopes. As for books, it makes more sense to have that all online anyway. I'm ready to go when they are."
But Indiana officials are hoping to stop the move.
"I'll raise taxes to build them a huge, state-of-the-art arena," said Indiana governor Mitch Daniels. "I'll pull strings in Washington to get them more national coverage. I'll cut our state education budget to pay Coach Stevens more money. Whatever it takes. Please, Butler. Please just don't leave us with the Indiana Hoosiers as our state's most well-known basketball team. We don't deserve that."