Tulane University and East Carolina University will join the Big East Conference starting with the 2014-15 academic year following Rutgers University’s exit from the league to the Big Ten.
New Orleans-based Tulane will leave Conference USA and join the Big East for all sports, President Scott Cowen said yesterday in a news conference. ECU will join for football only, according to an e-mailed release.
Tulane has an undergraduate enrollment of 8,423 and sponsors 16 sports, 10 of which are women’s teams. The university is located about 340 miles (550 kilometers) away from the closest Big East school, the University of Houston, which will join the conference next year.
“As far as I am concerned, this is a win-win-win,” Cowen said. “A win for New Orleans, a win for Tulane University and a win for the Big East.”
Big East presidents voted unanimously to extend an invitation to Tulane, the conference said yesterday in an e-mailed release. Cowen said his hand shook as he signed the contract making the move official.
“I am so proud of our university and the fact that we are joining a conference with a footprint all over the United States,” Cowen said.
Tulane’s football team was 2-10 this year, its 10th consecutive losing season. The team is 33-86 in that span, and hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2002.
The Green Wave men’s basketball team has had a similar run, with three winning seasons in the past 10 years and no postseason tournament appearances. The school’s baseball team advanced to the College World Series in 2001 and 2005, and its women’s golf team played in the National Collegiate Athletic Association national championships in 2009 and 2010.
East Carolina, which is located in Greenville, North Carolina, has an undergraduate enrollment of about 21,000. The school will continue its current partnership with Conference USA through the 2013 campaign, and will be included in all of the Big East’s future television, marketing, promotion and bowl negotiations, according to the release.
“We know we will be successful and add value to the Big East,” Chancellor Steve Ballard said in the release. “It is a great day to be a Pirate.”
East Carolina’s football team is 8-4 this season, and 7-1 in Conference USA play, losing a tiebreaker against future Big East conference-mate Central Florida for a berth in the league title game. The Pirates won conference titles in 2008 and 2009, and had 13 former players invited to National Football League training camps in July, including Baltimore Ravens fullback Vonta Leach and New York Giants defensive lineman Linval Joseph.
The school’s next task will be to find an “equally exciting and competitive environment for the 18 sports other than football,” Athletic Director Terry Holland said in the release.
Rutgers last week became the fourth team to announce its plans to leave the conference in the past two years. West Virginia joined the Big 12 this season, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse are set to join the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.
The moves leave 18 schools participating in most Big East sports as of July 1, 2014. The conference’s football lineup as of July 2015 will include 14 members, including the two newcomers as well as Central Florida, Boise State, Memphis, Houston, Navy, San Diego State and Southern Methodist, all of whom competed in other conferences this season.