Media sources have said Temple’s athletic conference upgrade appears imminent.
Temple officials are reported to be in talks with the Big East Conference regarding the Owls joining the league for all sports in Fall 2012.
The New York Times broke the story on Wednesday, Feb. 22, citing a source “briefed on the talks.”
Temple athletic teams currently compete in the Atlantic Ten Conference in all sports except football, which competes in the Mid-American Conference, and gymnastics, which competes in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
MAC commissioner Jon A. Steinbrecher issued a statement the same day, responding that the conference is “aware that Temple has been in discussions with the Big East.”
To leave the MAC, a school would have to provide a two-year notice and pay a $2.5 million exit fee. Leaving the A-10 would require a $2 million exit fee and a one-year notice. Terms for a more immediate exit would have to be negotiated.
Temple had also been in talks about joining a merger between Conference-USA and the Mountain West Conference.
“I think it’s an outstanding opportunity for Temple University, the students themselves, the athletes, as well as the university as a whole,” said Frederick Saporito, a junior sports and recreation management major, and vice president of marketing for the Cherry Crusade, Temple’s official student section. “This can only help being in a major conference, people will recognize [that] you’re in the Big East.”
The Big East has to fill gaps in its scheduling after ending a legal dispute with West Virginia University earlier this month, allowing the school to leave the conference for the Big 12 before the 2012 season.
The Big East also lost Sycracuse, Pittsburgh and Texas Christian University to conference expansion last fall, while adding Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football and Houston, Southern Methodist, Central Florida and Memphis for all sports.
Temple was a football-only member of the Big East from 1991 to 2004, until it was voted out of the conference for non-competitiveness, poor attendance and unwillingness to fund the football program at a level that was comparable to its Big East peers.
Since being voted out of the Big East in 2004, the Owls have played in two bowl games, including a win in the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, defeating Wyoming, 37–15. Temple also beat Big East champions Connecticut during the 2010 football season.
In basketball, Temple is 5–3 over Big East Opponents in the past three seasons.
Director of University Communications Hillel Hoffmann deferred questions to athletics. Temple’s athletic department was unable to comment by time of press.
A main motivation for entering the Big East is money. Should Temple become a full member of the Big East, the university would take a larger slice of college athletics’ overall revenues from three sources.
The first is tied to college football’s Bowl Championship Series, which during the 2010-11 Fiscal Year, gave $22,515,095 of its $181,912,310 in total revenue to the Big East to divide among its member institutions, while the MAC received $2,633,683 according to the NCAA’s website.
The second source is tied to NCAA revenues from the men’s basketball tournament in March. During March Madness, a conference receives a “unit” for every game its member institutions plays in except the championship game. In the 2009-10 fiscal year, one unit was worth $222,206 adding up to a total of $167.1 million in revenue. The Big East received $23,109,436 in such revenue, while the A-10 received $6,443,977.
The NCAA encourages conferences to share the money evenly, but the conferences are not obligated to do so.
The third is with the Big East’s television contract with ABC and ESPN, which is set to expire in 2013 and is currently being renegotiated. Under the current deal, universities that play both football and basketball in the Big East receive a little more than $3 million a year.
Brian Dzenis and John Moritz can be reached at email@example.com.