Navy football to join Big East in 2015


Not long ago, the Big East Conference was seemingly on life support. The departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as Texas Christian and West Virginia to the Big 12 Conference, cast doubt over the long-term viability of the conference.

In November, it added five new members. Tuesday, it added another.

In time for the 2015 football season, the United States Naval Academy will set sail for the Big East as a football-only member, its first conference home in the 136-year history of the program.

“After careful consideration, we consider this affiliation to be in the best interests of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and our Brigade of Midshipmen,” Vice Adm. Mike Miller, superintendent of the Naval

Academy said. “While our independent status has served Navy football well to date, the Big East Conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest  levels for the foreseeable future.”

The addition brings the Big East closer to 12 football-playing members, which would allow the conference to start a championship football game. Navy is the 11th team committed to playing in the conference from 2015 onward.

A growing gap between the “haves and have-nots” in college football helped Navy make the decision to give up its status as one of four independent football schools. Its other sports will remain in the Patriot League.

“I think we all recognize the landscape for Division I football is changing,” Miller said. “The separation between BCS and non-BCS schools is growing ever wider. We look at scheduling, TV and bowl opportunities, and we see a great opportunity to be shared with the Big East.”

While Houston, Southern Methodist, Central Florida, San Diego State and Boise State will begin playing Big East football in 2013, Navy will need additional time to clear out its schedule since all games are contract-based, rather than swapping eight conference games from a different conference for eight Big East games.

Navy will continue its rivalries with Army, Air Force and Notre Dame as non-conference games.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto welcomed Navy, but was quick to add that expansion is not yet over.

“Please know that our membership has worked hard to get to where we are today, but also know that we are not done yet,” he said. “We feel we can get even stronger and will continue to pursue interests from additional

top-notch institutions to further enhance our competitiveness in both football and basketball.”

While Marinatto wouldn’t publicly name potential additions, the other two service academies are rumored

candidates. Air Force has previously turned down the Big East in favor of remaining in the Mountain West, but may be persuaded by Navy’s presence.