Big East Conference

Big East Conference

Infobox Athletic Conference
name = Big East Conference
short_name =
established = 1979

logo_size = 237
association = NCAA
division = Division I
subdivision = FBS
members = 17 (full: 16; associate: 1)
sports = 23
mens = 10
womens = 13
region = Eastern United States
former_names =
hq_city = Providence
hq_stateabb = RI
hq_state = Rhode Island
commissioner = Mike Tranghese
since = 1990
website =
color = 2B366E
font_color = FFFFFF

map_size = 250

The Big East Conference is a collegiate athletics conference consisting of seventeen universities in the northeastern, southeastern and midwestern United States. The conference's 17 members (16 full-time and 1 associate member) participate in 23 NCAA sports. Eight of the seventeen conference schools are football members and the Big East competes as a BCS conference in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the top level of NCAA competition in that sport (also known by its former designation: Division I-A). Three members have football programs but are not Big East football schools: Georgetown and Villanova compete in the Football Championship Subdivision and Notre Dame plays as an FBS independent.

In football the Big East has re-emerged as an elite conference going 3-0 in BCS bowl games (Louisville once, West Virginia twice) since being re-built and at full-strength. The Big East has also had all 8 of their members play in bowl games since re-alignment and have had 7 of their 8 teams in the Top 25 since 2003. The last 3 years the Big East has seen the emergence of new national players (South Florida rising as high as #2, Rutgers as high as #7, Connecticut as high as #13 and Cincinnati as high as #15). Big East football has also seen an increase in attendance and is enjoying a new, quarter of a billion dollar plus television package that lasts through 2013. Left for dead after the departure of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College, the Big East arguably enjoys its greatest success both in football, basketball, television package and financially.

In basketball, teams currently in the Big East account for 40 all time Final Four appearances and 10 National Championships, numbers only surpassed by the Big Ten and Pac-10 respectively. Of the Big East's 16 full members, 15 (or 93%) have been to the Final Four, by far the most of any conference. The only full member that has never been to the Final Four is South Florida. The Big East set the record for the most teams sent to the NCAA Tournament by a single conference in 2006, with eight. The conference tied its own record again in 2008.

About The League

The Big East was founded in 1979 when Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, and Syracuse invited Seton Hall, Connecticut, and Boston College to form a conference primarily focused on basketball. Villanova joined a year later in 1980 and Pittsburgh joined in 1982.

Almost a decade later the Big East was serious about becoming a major football conference and added five schools, including four-time champion Miami, Temple, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Rutgers. Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference. The inaugural Big East football season was launched in 1991. [ [ Big East Football: A Big Folly?] ] [ [ About the Big East] ] West Virginia and Rutgers were football-only members until 1995, Virginia Tech was a football-only member until 2001, with Temple remaining a football-only member until consistently failing to attract enough fan support and vacating its membership in 2004. Notre Dame was also offered a non-football membership as of 1995.

=Former Members=

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Georgetown and St. John's were the primary powers in the conference. Led by John Thompson Jr., Thompson was named three times as the conference Coach of the Year, [cite web|url=|title=A Century of Georgetown Basketball|publisher=The Washington Post|accessdate=2008-03-04] they won five regular season conference championships, six Big East Tournaments, and were invited to the NCAA Tournament every year during that period, winning in 1984. [cite web|url=|title=Tradition|work=Georgetown Hoyas Men's Basketball Media Guide|publisher=Georgetown University|format=PDF|accessdate=2008-03-04] St. John's was led by Lou Carnesecca he won the National Coach of the Year honor in 1983 and 1985. He led the Redmen (now the Red Storm) to the 1985 Final 4, and post-season appearances every year in his 24 year run. He had an all time record at St. John's of 526-200.

UConn won a national championship under Jim Calhoun in 1999. Syracuse won a title under Jim Boeheim in 2003, and UConn with Calhoun again in 2004. Georgetown, now coached by Thompson's son John III, made the 2007 Final Four. The conference got a record eight teams into the NCAA Men's Tournament in 2006 and matched their own record in 2008.

The conference has a number of former players currently playing in the National Basketball Association with some of the most recent being Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Ryan Gomes, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Carmelo Anthony, Troy Murphy, Hakim Warrick, Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, Samuel Dalembert, Charlie Villanueva, Ron Artest and Aaron Gray.

Big East women's basketball is nearly as powerful as the conference's men's programs. UConn coach Geno Auriemma has led the women's team to five national championships (including four between 2000 and 2004) and two undefeated seasons (1995 and 2002). UConn set the record for longest winning streak in all of NCAA women's basketball history with a 70 game winning streak stretching from 2001-2003. This streak was ended in 2003 when Villanova beat UConn for the Big East tournament title, in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in women's basketball (Villanova would go on to reach the Elite Eight that year). Under the strength of the UConn program, and to a lesser extent Boston College, 2007 national runner-up Rutgers, and 2001 national champion Notre Dame, the Big East has emerged as one of the major powers in women's college basketball.


1 Football stadiums for Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Villanova are not "conference facilities" as those universities are not members of Big East Football.
2 The University of Louisville is in the process of a $63 million expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to 63,600 and constructing a new $350 million downtown waterfront arena that will seat 23,500. Both projects are funded and expected to be complete by 2010.
3 St. John's men generally play their Big East home schedule in Madison Square Garden and their non-conference home schedule on campus at Carnesecca Arena. In 2005-06, St. John's played only one non-conference game at MSG and one Big East game on campus.
4 For certain high-profile home games, Villanova uses the Wachovia Center, and previously used the Wachovia Spectrum. In 2005-06, Villanova played three home games at the Wachovia Center and the rest on campus at The Pavilion. In 2006, the Wachovia Center was also a first-round site for the NCAA Tournament. Under NCAA rules, a venue is not considered a home court unless a school plays four or more regular-season games there; this enabled Villanova to play its first two tournament games at the Wachovia Center (but Villanova was not considered the host school for that sub-region — the Atlantic 10 Conference was). This situation will apply again in 2009 when the Wachovia Center was announced as a first/second round site to be hosted by Saint Joseph's University.
5 For Syracuse basketball games in the Carrier Dome, the court is laid out on one end of the field and stands are erected beside it. This makes the Carrier Dome the largest on-campus venue for college basketball in the nation.
6 Late in 2006, Rutgers added approximately 3000 temporary end zone seats that remained for the 2007 season (total 45,000). In 2008, Rutgers began a stadium expansion project which is expected to increase capacity to over 55,000 seats and add luxury and club seats. The premium seating is projected to be ready for the 2008 season and the additional 12,000 end zone seats are expected for the 2009 season. The stadium is also expected to receive a new name as part of the financing package depends on a name sponsorship.



In 2003 the Big East was put on watch as the ACC announced plans to expand from nine teams to twelve which under NCAA rules would have enabled them to hold a special conference championship football game. Miami, Syracuse, and BC were rumored to be the three schools under consideration, and all three met with officials from the ACC regarding membership. At the same time, the Big East itself was contemplating its future.

It was later revealed that Miami had been dissatisfied with the Big East and its leadership since a formal letter of complaint was issued by Miami to Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese in 1999. Their issues went unresolved, leading to Miami's interest in the ACC — a league which had been pursuing the college football superpower since the mid-1990s, at the request of football-oriented Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech. Those schools were concerned with the balance of power in the ACC, which they viewed as tilted towards "Tobacco Road", the nickname given to the four North Carolina ACC schools and their nationally prominent basketball programs.

Led by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, UConn and the "remaining" football schools (Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia) filed two lawsuits, one against the ACC, and the other against Miami and BC, accusing them of improper disclosure of confidential information and of conspiring to weaken the Big East. Syracuse was not named as a defendant in part because they never made public comments about the ongoing situation.

Talks with Syracuse indicated that it would likely leave the Big East. But doubts arose when Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim publicly expressed his disapproval of a conference change, [cite news | url= | publisher=USA Today | title=Boeheim: 'Keep the ACC. I prefer the Big East'] even as Syracuse and ACC officials proceeded with the formalities of official campus visits. Miami and Boston College were unwavering in their interest in the ACC, and Virginia Tech made it clear that they had long wanted to join the ACC. Finally, in a last-minute about-face, due in large measure to political pressure applied by Mark Warner, Governor of Virginia, the ACC replaced Syracuse with Virginia Tech in its expansion vote. Things became even more surprising when, reached by phone at a conference in Switzerland, then-N.C. State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox cast a last-minute "no" vote against BC.citation | url= | title=News Clips for June 27, 2003 | publisher=North Carolina State University | date=2003-06-27] As a result, the ACC extended invitations only to Miami and Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech immediately accepted the invitation and filed court papers to get themselves out of the awkward position of suing their new conference. Miami, stunned by the outcome of the vote, delayed their acceptance until the last possible day. Miami President Donna Shalala explained the delay stating "We had numbers on BC-Virginia Tech. We had done numbers on Miami alone. But we had not anticipated that Virginia Tech and Miami would be the only two invitees." The remaining four plaintiffs removed BC from the list of defendants and asked both BC and Syracuse to join their suit. Both declined.

Leaked minutes of Big East meetings have shed light on the confusing process surrounding the defection of three of its members. At a summer meeting of the "football schools", following the announced departures of Miami and Virginia Tech, discussion among the Presidents and Athletic Directors of the remaining schools focused on a potential split into two conferences; an all-sports conference including football, and a second conference focused primarily on basketball. The idea of a 16-team superconference of both basketball and football schools was discussed, as was merging with Conference USA. Minutes of a July 9, 2003 meeting of presidents and athletic directors held before any detailed review of the conference's options show that Syracuse Athletic Director Jake Crouthamel and BC Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo went on record indicating they would resign their positions if the Big East expanded to 16 teams.

In response to a proposal for the establishment of a binding agreement among the six schools with a $5 million exit fee and 27-month notice requirement. Meanwhile, the Big East presidents agreed to meet with and possibly extend invitations to Penn State and Notre Dame. However, neither school showed interest in joining the conference. [cite news | url= | title=Big East considered adding Penn State, Notre Dame | publisher=Pittsburgh Tribune-Review] The minutes show the presidents unanimously voted to support an eventual conference invitation for the University of Louisville, and to begin due diligence on Louisville and other proposed new members. Several models for a new conference were discussed; and it was decided that the football schools would explore separating from the basketball-only schools to establish an 8-team all-sports conference. The presidents and athletic directors described the breakup of the football and basketball schools as "inevitable".

Additional meetings of the football conference members occurred between July and October 2003. In the course of those meetings it was realized that the break-up scenario would not be feasible because the new football conference would lose its automatic NCAA basketball tournament berth and possibly its BCS] bid, as well as the Big East name. Further, the football schools had not been together long enough to satisfy certain NCAA rules. At a Big East meeting in Newark, New Jersey, New Jersey on October 1, 2003 after a discussion of Notre Dame's concerns for stability, BC president Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., addressed rumors surrounding BC's intentions toward the Big East. Fr. Leahy conceded that BC might indeed be leaving the conference and he would determine how genuine the ACC's reported interest in having any school as a 12th member. [cite news | url= | title=BC's bumpy landing | publisher=The Boston Globe] He stated he could not agree to an exit penalty larger than the already agreed to $5,000,000. It was decided that the conference would add additional football and basketball schools and continue in its existing structure until such time as the football schools could establish their own conference. Unhappy with the vote on the future structure of the conference, the administration of BC continued discussions with the ACC, which was still looking for a 12th member.

Speculation that Chancellor Fox, a Notre Dame trustee, cast her initial vote against BC so that the ACC might consider extending membership to Notre Dame was fueled by press accounts reporting that a bid to the Fighting Irish was imminent. But in mid-October 2003, the ACC voted unanimously to invite BC to be its twelfth member, although because of timing issues BC was not able to compete in the ACC until the 2005-2006 season. When BC accepted they were returned to the lawsuit still pending against Miami by several Big East schools. After expansion, Jake Crouthamel retired as athletic director at Syracuse.

In response to losing three football programs, the Big East extended invitations to five schools from Conference USA in order to replenish their football ranks and to create a 16-team basketball superconference. The schools that left Conference USA on July 1, 2005 for the Big East are:
* University of Cincinnati
* DePaul University ("non-football school")
* University of Louisville
* Marquette University ("non-football school")
* University of South Florida

The fallout from the Conference USA realignment instigated a chain reaction of conference realignments that affected the WAC, MAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, and Atlantic Ten Conferences. At the same time, the UConn Huskies completed their leap to Division I-A football and became a full member of the conference in 2004, resulting in their first-ever bowl bid.

Conference Champions by year

†Received the Conference's BCS (or Alliance Bowl) berthSource:cite web|url= |title=Big East History & Records|publisher="big" |accessdate=2008-04-01]

ee also

*Big East Baseball Tournament

External links

* [ Official Site of the Big East Conference]
* [ Un-Official Site of the Big East Conference]
* [ WVMountaineerSports] Your Source for WVU Mountaineers
* [ 2008-2009 Big East Basketball Composite Schedule Grid] Football and Basketball


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