Temple joins the Big East for all sports

After much speculation, Temple will phase itself back into the Big East.

Temple will join the Big East Conference for football in 2012 and all other sports in 2013, a press conference indicated today, March 7.

The move gives the Big East eight football-playing schools for the 2012 season. The conference could end up with up to 20 basketball schools by the time Temple joins in 2013.

“This is arguably the greatest day in the history of Temple athletics,” said Bill Bradshaw, director of athletics, in a press release today.  “For the first time we will have all of our athletic programs playing in one conference, and there is no conference that is a better fit for Temple than the Big East.”

The Big East needed a team to replace West Virginia for its 2012 football schedule. The Mountaineers recently negotiated an early exit from the conference, effective this year, so they could join the Big 12 for football.

The Big East first targeted Boise State, set to join the conference for football only in 2013, as an immediate replacement. But the Broncos couldn’t pay the early exit fee mandated by the Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences, so the Big East turned its attention to Temple.

The Owls, who had been playing football in the Mid-American Conference and all other sports in the Atlantic 10 Conference, had to negotiate exits from both conferences before Temple could make the move into the Big East.

The buyout from the MAC with less than a year’s notice is $6 million, while Temple would have to pay the A-10 $1 million for leaving next season with less than two year’s notice. The Temple News first reported the Big East will be covering both of those expenses entirely.

“No college money will be used to pay for this,” said Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications.

“This move will benefit Temple financially as well as competitively,” said Lewis Katz, the chair of the Athletics Committee of Temple’s Board of Trustees. “We are grateful to the Big East for working cooperatively with us to structure our payments in a way that assures that the move is a win in all respects.”

Temple will replace West Virginia on the Big East schedule for 2012, meaning the Owls would play home games against Syracuse, Rutgers, Cincinnati and South Florida, while traveling to Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Louisville for road games.

Boise State and San Diego State will join the conference as football-only members for the 2013-14 season, while Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF will be added as all-sports members. Navy will join for football only in 2015.

“Having been a part of the Big East before while at Syracuse, I know what a great conference we are in,” football coach Steve Addazio said. “Temple is a natural fit in a very exciting national conference.  This is a great time for Temple University, the Big East, and Philadelphia.”

Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova, Providence and DePaul are the basketball-only schools in the Big East.

“Over the last three decades we have built great relationships and wonderful rivalries in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy said. “Now, with the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics, we are able to have all of our sports in one conference, the Big East Conference. So, after next season, we will be saying goodbye to old friends, which is never easy, but making new ones which is exciting.”

If Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which have already negotiated exits to the Atlantic Coast Conference, cannot leave the Big East prior to the 2013 season, the conference would have 14 football schools and 20 basketball schools during that year.

Temple was a member of the Big East for football from 1991-2004, when they were kicked out due to a lack of university support. Since then, the football program has resurged under coaches Al Golden and Steve Addazio, who led the Owls to a combined two bowl games and three winning seasons.

This past year, Temple won its first bowl game since 1979, a 37-15 blowout against Wyoming in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. The Owls also defeated eventual Big East champion Connecticut in the 2010 season.

Joey Cranney can be reached at joseph.cranney@temple.edu.

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