The Big East grew by two more members Tuesday, adding Tulane for all sports and East Carolina as a football-only member. The moves will take place for the 2014-15 season, as the Big East continues its overhaul after losing members to the ACC, Big 12 and Big 10.
The latest move that shook the conference, Rutgers' defection to the Big Ten, set the table for this move. In East Carolina, the Big East gets a school with a rabid fan base and a strong history of traveling for bowl games. In Tulane, it gets a school vigorously pouring money into its football and basketball programs as the university attempts to increase its national profile. Tulane's football and basketball programs have been among the worst in Conference USA over the past decade. However, the move appears to be as much an attempt to capture a large market -- the city of New Orleans -- as a solid program.
"I am pleased and excited to welcome Tulane University to the Big East Conference," said Big East commissioner Mike Aresco. "Tulane University is an outstanding academic institution and is committed to excellence in athletics. They will be a valued member of the Big East."
Added Tulane president Scott Cowen: "Tulane is pleased to accept membership in the Big East conference. The Big East is a distinguished collection of institutions that will be a wonderful home for Tulane."
The moves will help the league grow, but they'll likely do little to make a significant financial difference in the league's television negotiation, which has been placed on hold because of this latest round of realignment. The move was also viewed around college sports as a proactive measure to buffer the potential loss of any ACC schools, as Louisville and Connecticut are likely to be atop the ACC's list when it decides to replace Maryland.
The Big East is at a tenuous crossroads, having lost linchpin members Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Rutgers in the past two seasons. In the early part of last decade, the league also lost Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. The view around the league is that if both UConn and Louisville leave, momentum will build for the Big East's basketball members to attempt to break away. Heading into 2014, the only charter Big East football member remaining will be Temple, which was kicked out of the league in 2005 and rejoined before this season.
The Big East's new image appears to be taking hold of the old Conference USA, as its former C-USA football schools will now include Tulane, ECU, USF, UCF, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Louisville and Cincinnati. DePaul and Marquette are former Conference USA basketball schools.