Temple football will remain in the Big East until 2004, the Big East announced Friday.
The announcement comes after months of talks between Big East officials and the university. Temple was originally told it was being removed from the conference immediately. The Big East later said Temple would remain in the conference for this season only.
“We are pleased to reach an agreement,” Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said in a statement. “This pact now allows both parties to prepare for their futures beyond the 2004 season.”
The football team was put into a tailspin last March after the announcement. They didn’t know if they’d be in the Big East this season and even if Temple would keep the football program.
Amid rumors that Temple would drop to Division I-AA or get rid of the football program altogether, Howard Gittis, the chairman of the board of trustees at Temple, said that the school stuck behind the team and they would remain in the Big East.
“We are pleased to work out this agreement with the Big East,” Gittis said in the statement. “Temple University remains fully committed to Division I-A football and this agreement enables the Temple football program to continue its impressive improvement under head coach Bobby Wallace and his staff.
“With the expected conference realignments in I-A football that will be occurring in 2005 and beyond, we are quite confident that Temple will continue to play in a very competitive I-A conference.”
Temple gets $2 million a year from the Big East from television and bowl contracts. Temple was expected to take the conference to court if the team wasn’t given the time to find a new conference to play in. Connecticut, who Temple hosts at Franklin Field on Sep. 15, is joining the Big East in 2005.
The conference cited attendance, competitiveness and the lack of a steady place to play (Temple splits games between Franklin Field and Veterans’ Stadium) as reasons Temple was being kicked out.
Temple drew over 26,000 to its home opener against Navy last week and has seen attendance rise steadily over the years. But the Big East set 25,000 as the expected attendance.
Temple hosts Toledo Saturday at 4 p.m. at Franklin Field.