|The Big East added Tulane in all sports and ECU in football for the 2014 season Tuesday. (US Presswire)|
Fresh off Rutgers' decision to accept an invitation to the Big 10 last week, the Big East announced Tuesday that it is adding Tulane in all sports and East Carolina for football for the 2014-2015 season.
For a conference that has been hit hard by deflections over the past two years, it provides some stability. Still, questions remain.
Despite the developments the past week, the Big East is bracing for additional losses. Connecticut and Louisville have emerged as the favorites to fill a vacancy in the ACC left by Maryland's departure last week, according to multiple reports. If either program leaves, the Big East could have two six-team divisions for the 2014-2015 season without any further additions. Navy is expected to join the Big East in football for the 2015-2016 season.
Although discussions between the Big East and BYU had picked up the past few days, a source with direct knowledge of the conversations told CBSSports.com College Football Insider Jeremy Fowler that the school has declined an invitation from the conference. Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has said the conference did not extend an invitation to BYU.
The recent events also impact negotiations for a new Big East TV contract. Aresco indicated Tuesday at Tulane's news conference that Rutgers' move forced the conference to re-assess the situation, but he expects to re-engage in negotiations shortly.
East Carolina (8-4) is 7-1 in Conference USA and is coming off a 65-59 overtime win over Marshall last week. The Pirates have scored 41 points or more in four of their last six games. In losses to South Carolina and North Carolina, though, East Carolina was outscored 75-16. The program has a history of defeating heavyweights. East Carolina opened the 2008 season with consecutive wins over top-25 opponents with victories against No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 8 West Virginia. The biggest win in school history was over Miami in 1999.
Tulane has been less accomplished in recent seasons. The Green Wave had lost 15 consecutive games before a 27-26 win over SMU in October. But Tulane has an up-and-coming coach in former Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson and is in the midst of significantly upgrading its facilities. The construction of Yulman Stadium, a 30,000-seat football stadium is expected to be completed in 2014. In basketball, the Green Wave will play the majority of their Big East games at New Orleans Arena.
Tulane and ECU to join the Big East: What they're saying
Big East Commissioner Aresco: “The schools coming in next summer will add tremendous energy. We definitely will look westward. We are not finished, we have some other plans for expansion.”
“Tulane is a university with athletic programs on the rise. The (football) team was undefeated in 1998. We want to identify schools that not only have tradition but are forward-looking.”
“We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the Big East conference for football. They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league.”
Tulane football coach Johnson: “Today is another historic day for our university and an exciting time for our football program. The 2014 season will be a memorable year with the opening of our new on-campus football stadium and now our first season as a Big East conference member."
East Carolina 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 (athletic director) Terry Holland and (associate athletic director) Nick Floyd in making this day a reality. It is a great day to be a Pirate.”
Tulane basketball coach Ed Conroy: “The Big East features some of the top markets in the country and should really help us in recruiting. We are located in such a great city and now have significantly upgraded facilities. All of this will help us sell our program nationwide and move our program where we want it to be."
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Big East, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.