Bradshaw remains firm on conference positioning

Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw discussed conference re-alignment and the future of Big East Conference basketball Monday while maintaining his stance that Temple is in a good place despite the constant movement and uncertainty.

“If you think about where we were seven years ago where we were in every facet of the game, I would take [the new Big East] in a heartbeat,” Bradshaw said in an interview following the announcement of Matt Rhule as the new football coach. “We are in a far different and better place than where we were.”

Temple was the only new addition to Big East football in 2012, but in 2013, the conference realignment that has been rampant in college sports the last three years will start to take effect.

Six teams will join the conference for football in 2013: Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and Southern Methodist. By 2015, a total of nine new additions will have occurred in the form of Navy, Tulane and East Carolina. The football conference that currently holds eight members will be adding nine teams in three years, but the teams it loses could be more significant.

“We only add programs that bring value to the conference,” Bradshaw said.

Four of the current eight teams will be departing the conference starting next season as Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Rutgers and Louisville will also follow suit and depart the conference. While a 27-month waiting period is usually required to leave the Big East, many teams reach financial settlements to get out of such arrangements. Rutgers will leave for the Big Ten Conference while Louisville will join Syracuse and Connecticut in the ACC.

This leaves a 12-team football conference for next season and a projected 13-team conference in 2015. The 13-team conference in 2015 will be made up of members from 12 states and all four time zones. While the conference grows geographically, every school it adds will be independents or come from Mid-Major conferences.

The Big East is currently home to 15 schools who have basketball programs. As of July 1, 2015, only three of these schools will remain. While the departures of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville and Rutgers had been previously announced, the recent announcement of the loss of seven other schools came largely as a shock.

Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, St. John’s, Marquette, Providence and DePaul announced Saturday they were leaving the Big East to form their own conference. Currently, Big East basketball conference has combined for 11 national titles. The projected conference in 2015 has five.

The institutions are alike in that they do not field football teams, but according to Bradshaw, they share structural similarities.

“The teams that are leaving the Big East probably should have done that a long time ago,” Bradshaw said. “They have a lot in common in terms of size of their institutions, their basketball budgets, the size of their home arenas and their enrollments. They are in a conference with schools with football teams that spend five or six times amount of money that they do on athletics.”

While the breakaway creates a conference of schools with no football teams, the Big East basketball conference it leaves behind is largely a haphazard collection of teams. While the conference will likely add more teams to its basketball roster, the current nine-team collection of Central Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple and Tulane that will make up the conference in 2015 is a collection of mostly mid-majors. With many teams changing conferences, it is also not unlikely that some of the teams currently projected to remain in the conference could be working out their own deals to depart.

While conference realignment is never over and certainties are completely off the table, one thing does remain certain. Temple is entering a conference much different from the one it previously thought.

“I firmly believe that when all is said and done, no one is going to be able to ignore Philadelphia, and Temple as a strong FBS program,” Bradshaw said.

Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at ibrahim.jacobs@temple.edu or on Twitter @ibrahimjacobs.

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