Tulane, East Carolina to the Big East (UPDATED)

The Big East has already branched out to California, Idaho, Texas and Florida, so why not Louisiana and North Carolina?

Tulane, currently in Conference USA, will join the Big East in all sports in 2014-15, along with incoming members Memphis, Houston, UCF and SMU. East Carolina will join for football only in 2014.

“I am pleased and excited to welcome Tulane University to the Big East Conference,” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “Tulane University is an outstanding academic institution and is committed to excellence in athletics. They will be a valued member of the Big East.”

Meantime, East Carolina will join for football only.

“We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the BIG EAST Conference for football,” said Aresco.  “They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league.  The University is an outstanding academic institution that reflects the values important to the BIG EAST Conference.”

“ECU is excited to become a football member of the BIG EAST Conference,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.  “We know we will be successful and add value to the BIG EAST.  While hundreds of dedicated Pirates have contributed to this day, I especially want to recognize the relentless energy of Terry Holland and Nick Floyd in making this day a reality.  It is a great day to be a Pirate.”

Said Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky: “We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well. These are unprecedented times in higher education. Notwithstanding the changes, we are excited about our future and we remain committed to our strategic plan – a major market, two-division conference that is student-athlete friendly.

“To be clear, we have several options but no new member agreements have been made at this time. We appreciate the support of our members and will immediately begin a presidentially led process to evaluate our future options.”

Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East after this season. West Virginia departed after last year for the Big 12. And Rutgers announced last week it was headed to the Big Ten, likely in 2014.

UConn may soon follow suit to the ACC.

The Big East currently has 15 basketball programs, with 14 eligible for the BIg East Tournament this season because of UConn’s postseason ban.

With the additions next year of Temple, Memphis, Houston, UCF and SMU, the league would have 18 basketball teams in 2013-14, assuming Rutgers stays for that year.

Tulane — which hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1995 — would give the league 19 basketball teams for next year.

As Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com pointed out, by 2014 nine of the Big East’s members will have been former Conference USA members.

Photo: NOLA.com

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