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East Carolina headed to Big East for football
Greenville, NC (Sports Network) - The landscape of the ever-changing Big East Conference continued to alter on Tuesday, with East Carolina announcing that it will be joining the league as a football-only member beginning with the 2014 season.
Earlier in the day, the Big East accepted Tulane for all sports starting with the 2014-15 academic year.
Both schools are currently part of Conference USA, which continues to serve as a feeder league for the Big East in this era of rapid conference rearrangement. Central Florida, Houston, SMU and Memphis have already announced intentions to depart Conference USA for the Big East.
The latest moves came as a response to last week's announcement by Rutgers that it will be heading to the Big Ten along with ACC inhabitant Maryland. Speculation has also existed that the ACC could poach Connecticut from the Big East as a replacement for Maryland.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse are already bolting the conference for the ACC following the 2013-14 season, while West Virginia left the league for the Big 12 in 2012. Notre Dame, a Big East member for all sports except for football, announced plans to join the ACC as well earlier this year.
East Carolina's addition will create a proposed football league that will include teams from all regions of the country. Current Mountain West members Boise State and San Diego State are also slated to join UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU alongside present Big East schools Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville South Florida and Temple. Tulane and ECU would begin play in 2014, with Navy joining in a football-only capacity the following year.
Boise State and San Diego would also be in strictly for football.
The new configuration gives the Big East 12 football schools for the 2013 season, when Pittsburgh and Syracuse will leave the conference for the ACC one year after West Virginia exited to join the Big 12. The expansion will enable the league to hold a conference championship game between winners of newly created East and West divisions for the first time in its history.
East Carolina has been one of Conference USA's more successful football programs, capturing back-to-back league titles in 2008 and 2009 and tying UCF for the East Division championship with a 7-1 league mark this season. The Pirates have averaged seven wins over the last five seasons and will be headed to a bowl for the sixth time in seven years.
"We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the Big East Conference for football," Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said. "They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league immediately. The University is an outstanding academic institution that reflects the values important to the Big East Conference."
11/27 17:56:33 ET