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Big East adds two more teams for 2014

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 07:11

In the wake of Rutgers’ departure to the Big 10, the Big East announced the addition of two more teams to the conference Tuesday.

Tulane and East Carolina will join the Big East Conference in 2014, with East Carolina joining as a football-only member.

The addition of East Carolina hits close to home for USF football coach Skip Holtz, who coached East Carolina from 2005 to 2009, going 38-27, 28-12 in conference play and winning two Conference USA East Division championships.

“I’m excited for them,” Holtz said. “I think it’s a good program. They have a great fan base and a great following. There are a lot of good people there. (ECU Athletic Director) Terry Holland is a great leader — he is like a father figure to me. I’m happy for them because I know that is a goal that they have had and is something that they have been working hard for.”

The addition will make 13 total teams in the conference in 2014, enough for two divisions and a potential conference championship game.

“We are in a world of a changing landscape when it comes to conference affiliation,” Holtz said. “It seems like every week there are new announcements and speculations and rumors. I think for me right now, coaches are not really included in those conversations. I am sure the administration is doing what they can to create the strongest Big East Conference they can build.”

Next week, USF President Judy Genshaft and Athletics Director Doug Woolard will travel to New York to set the Big East schedule for next year.

The addition of both teams comes as the Big East is negotiating a new television deal. Conference commissioner Mike Aresco spoke to reporters Sept. 13 when the negotiations were beginning, and said the Big East has had some preliminary conversations with ESPN.

“We’ll get into that in earnest pretty soon,” he said. “We value the ESPN relationship... We have a lot of people interested in us. We’ve got a lot of different options. The thing you have to remember (is) we have an enormous amount of quality product. We have outstanding major markets, we have teams that matter in those markets. I like the position we’re in.”

Since then, the 60-day exclusivity window with ESPN has expired, allowing the Big East free reign to negotiate with other channels, such as the NBC Sports Network and Fox.

The addition of the New Orleans media market, thanks to Tulane, could allow the league to become a more attractive candidate.

Though the Big East has added two teams, general speculation remains that the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) — which lost Maryland to the Big 10 Conference on Nov. 19 — will be looking toward the Big East for a 14th member. Sources told ESPN.com that Connecticut and Louisville are the favorites to move to the ACC.

East Carolina and Tulane are two of nine former Conference USA members to move to the Big East Conference.

“We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well,” Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a press release. “These are unprecedented times in higher education.”

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