By Brian Murphy
On the same day his league added Tulane as an all-sports member and East Carolina as a football-only member, Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said Boise State and San Diego State – the league's westernmost members – remain committed to the Big East and its vision for a national football conference.
Boise State and San Diego State are scheduled to join the league as football-only members in July.
"They are extremely committed to the Big East. I've talked to them on a number of occasions," Aresco said. "They are as committed as they've ever been."
Both schools have reaffirmed their commitment to the league, even as it lost Rutgers to the Big Ten last week and future defections are possible.
Both schools have been pushing for additional Western members, though Big East President Bob Kustra praised the additions of Tulane and East Carolina.
"Boise State welcomes East Carolina and Tulane to the conference as the Big East solidifies its membership with these additions. The Big East is proactively responding to the national changes in conference affiliations, and Boise State remains committed to building and competing in a strong Big East future," he said in a statement.
Aresco said the conference still has a Western strategy.
"We've looked at that and will continue to do so," Aresco said. "There have been many schools that have expressed interest in joining the Big East."
Tulane (located in New Orleans) and East Carolina (about 90 miles from Raleigh, N.C.) will begin play in 2014.
CBSSports.com reported that BYU declined an invitation to the league.
Aresco said the league did not offer an invitation to BYU.
"There has been no offer to BYU to join the conference. BYU is a quality institution," Aresco said.
The Big East's additions could be a preemptive move against more losses as Louisville, Connecticut and Cincinnati are considered possible additions to the ACC. Aresco said the league is still considering additional expansion.
"We have left the door open to 16 teams (in football)," Aresco said. "It depends on the quality of teams that want to be in the conference. There are quality institutions who want to be a part of the Big East."
Aresco said television negotiations will resume shortly. They were halted when Rutgers left and the Big East reignited its expansion decisions.
"We have great value to the networks," Aresco said, pointing out that the conference is the last one up for a television contract for several years.
For 2014, the Big East will have the following members in football (as of right now):
Big East West Division
San Diego State
Big East East Division
Navy is slated to join the league in 2015.
TULANE UNIVERSITY JOINS BIG EAST CONFERENCE
From the Big East:
PROVIDENCE – Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced the addition of Tulane University, one of the most highly regarded and selective independent research institutions in the United States that boasts one of the oldest and most storied athletics programs in the Southeast, as a full conference member.
The BIG EAST Board of Directors, by a unanimous vote of its Presidents, extended the invitation to Tulane, which will begin competing in the BIG EAST in the 2014-15 academic year.
“I am pleased and excited to welcome Tulane University to the BIG EAST Conference,” said Aresco. “Tulane University is an outstanding academic institution and is committed to excellence in athletics. They will be a valued member of the BIG EAST.”
Founded in 1834, Tulane is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, an association of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. Located in New Orleans, Tulane has an enrollment of 13,359. The university is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with “very high research activity.”
“Tulane University is pleased to accept membership in the BIG EAST Conference,” said President Scott Cowen. “The BIG EAST is a distinguished collection of institutions that will be a wonderful home for Tulane. We look forward to our mutual association and we are delighted to welcome the BIG EAST to the Big Easy!”
Tulane sponsors 16 sports, 10 women’s teams and six men’s teams. The women’s sports are basketball, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, cross country, golf, swimming and diving, bowling volleyball and sand volleyball. The men’s sports are football, baseball, basketball, tennis, outdoor track and field and cross country.
Tulane’s football team currently plays in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. The school is building a new football venue, Yulman Stadium, which will have a capacity of 30,000. It is expected to be completed in 2014. Tulane’s men’s and women’s basketball teams compete on campus at Devlin Fieldhouse. A majority of BIG EAST games will be played at New Orleans Arena.
The football team is coached by Curtis Johnson, who is in his first season. The men’s basketball program is led by coach Ed Conroy who is in his third year. The Green Wave won 15 men’s basketball games last season and are off to a 4-2 start this season.
Lisa Stockton is the head women’s basketball coach. She is the winningest coach in Conference USA history with 372 victories. During her tenure, the Green Wave have enjoyed a nine-year streak of NCAA Tournament berths, four regular-season conference championships and five conference tournament titles.
The baseball program has earned five regular-season conference championships, eight conference tournament crowns and has played in the College World Series twice in the last 11 years. The men’s tennis program has won eight national championships.
Over the last eight years, Green Wave student-athletes have been among the highest achievers nationally in the classroom, according to the most recent multi-year Academic Performance Rates (APR).
The BIG EAST has previously announced other new full members that will be begin playing in 2013. Those schools are: University of Central Florida, University of Houston, University of Memphis, and Southern Methodist University and Temple University. Boise State University and San Diego State University will compete only in football. The Naval Academy will start BIG EAST football play in 2015.
EAST CAROLINA JOINS BIG EAST AS A FOOTBALL MEMBER
From the Big East:
PROVIDENCE – BIG EAST Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced the addition of East Carolina University, one of the nation’s emerging research institutions, as a conference member that will compete in the BIG EAST in the sport of football.
The BIG EAST Board of Directors, by a unanimous vote of its Presidents, extended the invitation to East Carolina. ECU will begin BIG EAST football competition in the 2014 season.
“We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the BIG EAST Conference for football,” said Aresco. “They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league. The University is an outstanding academic institution that reflects the values important to the BIG EAST Conference.”
“ECU is excited to become a football member of the BIG EAST Conference,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard. “We know we will be successful and add value to the BIG EAST. While hundreds of dedicated Pirates have contributed to this day, I especially want to recognize the relentless energy of Terry Holland and Nick Floyd in making this day a reality. It is a great day to be a Pirate.”
Founded in 1907 in Greenville, N.C., East Carolina University is a 105-year-old public university and research institution that is nationally recognized for preparing rural family physicians, educational professionals and for its strong performing arts programs.
It enrolls 27,500 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students and is North Carolina’s largest producer of education and primary care professionals. It operates the Brody School of Medicine, a new school of Dental Medicine and a growing undergraduate Honors College in Greenville.
On the football field, East Carolina has been a consistent winner. The Pirates went to five straight bowl games and won two conference championships from 2006-10. Under third-year head coach Ruffin McNeill, ECU has compiled an 8-4 regular-season record this season, which included a 7-1 conference mark. The Pirates will be headed to their 18th bowl game.
The ECU football team plays in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that has a capacity of 50,000. The team has averaged more than 47,000 fans per game in each of the past three seasons.
The BIG EAST has previously announced new members that will begin playing football in the 2013. Those schools are: Boise State University, University of Central Florida, University of Houston, University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, San Diego State University. Tulane University will begin play in 2014. The Naval Academy will start BIG EAST football play in 2015.
Conference USA statement
"We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well. These are unprecedented times in higher education. Notwithstanding the changes, we are excited about our future and we remain committed to our strategic plan — a major market, two-division conference that is student-athlete friendly.
"To be clear, we have several options but no new member agreements have been made at this time. We appreciate the support of our members and will immediately begin a presidentially led process to evaluate our future options." — Commissioner Britton Banowsky.