ECU, Tulane join Big East
Looking to add stability in an unstable college football landscape, the Big East Conference countered the loss of Rutgers to the Big 10 Conference with the addition of Tulane — as a full-fledged member — and East Carolina — football-only — starting with the 2014-15 academic year.
“We are happy a great academic institution that is committed to athletics is joining us in the Big East Conference,” said UH vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades. “New Orleans is a favorable geographical destination for all sports programs in the Big East, and its media market lends itself to the type of exposure the Big East and its member institutions deserve.”
As it stands, the duo are set to join UH, Connecticut, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, SMU and Memphis in this cross-continental conference. Navy will join as a football-only member in 2015.
Of the 13 schools, nine are former Conference USA members, two hail from the Mountain West and one from the Mid-American Conference. With rumors swirling around the potential departure of Connecticut and Louisville to replace Maryland as the 14th member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East is acting swiftly.
“We realize that conference realignment is currently a fact of life in college sports,” said Big East Commissioner Mike Aresc in a statement following the departure of Rutgers.
“In the context of this realignment, changes in our membership have been taking place, including important additions. We remain committed to, and confident in, the continued growth and vitality of the Big East Conference.”
During the previous two seasons, the Big East has lost Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Additionally, in 2002, the league has seen the departures of Miami, Virginia Tech and charter-member Boston College — all to the ACC.
Nearly one year ago, UH was officially added to the Big East, along with Boise State, Central Florida, San Diego State and SMU, effective in time for the 2013 football season.
“Commissioner Mike Aresco has been proactive in his dealings and has prepared the Big East and its member institutions for recent changes,” according to a statement released by UH Athletics on Nov. 20.
“We have the utmost faith Commissioner Aresco and his staff will provide the best long-term future for member institutions. We wish Rutgers the best as we focus our attention on the positive future of the Big East Conference.”
The overhaul of the Big East — and college football at large — has also resulted in the Conference’s television contract negotiation to be put on hold. The new-look conference has stressed the importance of its presence in markets like Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia and now, New Orleans.
For now, as the Big East seeks to buffer any further potential losses, members such as UH watch as college football’s landscape continues its unprecedented changes.