DePaul Officially Enters the BIG EAST Conference
Official Website of the BIG EAST Conference
PROVIDENCE – The BIG EAST Conference formally admitted five new members today: the University of Cincinnati, DePaul University, University of Louisville, Marquette University and University of South Florida. All five universities will begin BIG EAST competition in the 2005-06 academic year.
The league had announced that the five new institutions had accepted conference membership on Nov. 4, 2003. With 16 members formally in place, The BIG EAST has become the nation’s largest Division I-A conference.
“This is a landmark day for the BIG EAST Conference,” said Commissioner Michael Tranghese. “We have been working closely with our new members since they accepted membership and we are extremely excited to move forward together. Our new schools have already added an enthusiastic spirit to the BIG EAST. We know they are bringing outstanding levels of athletic competition and academic excellence.”
“We are very excited as we formally embark on a new chapter in the history of The BIG EAST Conference,” added Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh and the Chair of the league’s Presidents. “We have already become friends and colleagues with our new members, and we look forward to a future that will be rewarding for everyone.”
In 2005-06, The BIG EAST Conference will include: the University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, DePaul University, Georgetown University, University of Louisville, Marquette University, University of Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh, Providence College, Rutgers University, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, University of South Florida, Syracuse University, Villanova University and West Virginia University.
For football, the BIG EAST will have an eight-team alignment – Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse, and West Virginia. A charter member of the Bowl Championship Series, the BIG EAST will begin its league schedule this fall when West Virginia plays at Syracuse on Sept. 4. The game will be nationally televised on ABC.
Cincinnati, with an enrollment of 33,000, sponsors 18 sports. The Bearcats’ first BIG EAST competitive event with be a men’s soccer game at Louisville on Sept. 7.
DePaul has an enrollment of 23,600 and sponsors 15 sports. The Blue Demons will begin BIG EAST play on Sept. 16 when the men’s soccer team hosts Georgetown and the women’s soccer team plays at Notre Dame.
Louisville, with an enrollment of 24,000, has 22 sports. Like Cincinnati, the Cardinals’ first BIG EAST match is Sept. 7 when U of L hosts the Bearcats.
Marquette, with an enrollment of 11,000, sponsors 14 sports. MU meets BIG EAST opponents for the first time on Sept. 16. Marquette will play at Syracuse in men’s soccer. The women’s soccer team will host South Florida.
The University of South Florida has an enrollment of 42,000. USF sponsors 18 sports. Like DePaul and Marquette, the Bulls’ men’s and women’s soccer teams will be the first to taste BIG EAST competition. On Sept. 16, the USF men’s soccer team hosts Seton Hall. The women’s team plays at Marquette.
The BIG EAST is also launching its new web site today in conjunction with College Sports Online. The address, www.bigeast.org, remains the same.
Since opening its doors in 1979, the BIG EAST has won 25 national championships in six different sports and 123 student-athletes have won individual national titles. More than 300 student-athletes have earned Academic All-America honors.
BIG EAST institutions reside in seven of the nation’s top 30 largest media markets, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., Tampa, Pittsburgh and Hartford. With the incoming members, the BIG EAST markets will contain almost one fourth of television households in the U.S.
BIG EAST Conference History
In 2005-06, the league welcomes five new members: University of Cincinnati, DePaul University, University of Louisville, Marquette University and the University of South Florida.
BIG EAST institutions reside in seven of the nation’s top 30 largest media markets, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Tampa, Pittsburgh and Hartford. With the incoming members, the BIG EAST markets will contain almost one fourth of all television households in the U.S.
Since opening its doors in 1979, the league has won 25 national championships in six different sports and 123 student-athletes have won individual national titles. Last year, Providence’s Kim Smith won the NCAA women’s country championship. The Notre Dame women’s soccer team took the 2004 national title.
The BIG EAST has always been able to boast that some of its best students are also some of its best athletes. More than 300 student-athletes have earned Academic All-America honors.
In 2003-04, three BIG EAST student-athletes were named the national scholar-athletes of the year in their respective sports – Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor in men’s basketball, Notre Dame’s Vanessa Pruzinsky in women’s soccer and St. John’s Chris Wingert in men’s soccer.
BIG EAST student-athletes also have continued their success after leaving the classrooms and playing fields. Former Connecticut women's basketball standout Dr. Leigh Curl was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1999. Former Georgetown men's basketball star Dikembe Mutombo was named a winner of the President's Service Award, the highest honor in the U.S. for volunteer service.
The BIG EAST continues to thrive in the basketball arena. In 2003-04, Connecticut became the first school in NCAA history to win the men’s and women’s NCAA titles in the same season. With the Syracuse men and the UConn women grabbing NCAA crowns the previous year, the BIG EAST also became the first conference in NCAA history to win the men’s and women’s titles in consecutive seasons. In fact, the BIG EAST has won five of the last six women’s basketball crowns and three of the last seven men’s titles.
Whether it's the student-athletes or the league as a whole, moving proactively has been a consistent strategy for the conference that was formed in 1979. The BIG EAST has continually turned challenges into opportunities to bolster its strength.
In the spring of 2001, the BIG EAST added women's lacrosse to its growing list of sports. The inaugural women's golf championship was held in the spring of 2003.
The BIG EAST became a reality on May 31, 1979, following a meeting of athletic directors from Providence College, St. John's, Georgetown and Syracuse Universities. Seton Hall, Connecticut and Boston College completed the original seven-school alliance.
While the membership has both increased and changed, the focus of the BIG EAST has not wavered. The conference reflects a tradition of broad based programs, led by administrators and coaches who place a constant emphasis on academic integrity. The BIG EAST Conference has enjoyed a leadership role nationally. Its student athletes own significantly high graduation rates and their record of scholastic achievement notably show a balance between intercollegiate athletics and academics.
Any successful organization needs outstanding leadership. Michael Tranghese, the league's first full-time employee, and for 11 years the associate to Dave Gavitt, moved into the Commissioner's chair in 1990. In his first year, he administered the formation of The BIG EAST Football Conference.
The league has long been considered a leader in innovative concepts in promotion and publicity, particularly regarding television. Those efforts have resulted in unparalleled visibility for BIG EAST student-athletes. The conference has enjoyed long-standing relationships with CBS, ESPN, Inc. and ABC.
While BIG EAST basketball games are regular sellouts at campus and major public arenas, including the annual BIG EAST Championship in Madison Square Garden, attendance figures also are significant at BIG EAST soccer, women's basketball and baseball games.
More than 500 BIG EAST athletes have earned All-America recognition and dozens have won individual NCAA national championships. The BIG EAST has been well represented in U.S. or foreign national and Olympic teams. Several athletes earned gold medals in each of the last five summer Olympiads.