Tulane University has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference Tuesday where it is expected to announce it will accept an invitation to join the Big East Conference in all sports, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to SportsNOLA.com Tuesday.
There are conflicting reports as to whether Tulane’s move will take place for the 2013-14 or 2014-15 seasons. In addition to the Green Wave’s jump, multiple reports indicate that fellow Conference USA member East Carolina will also join the Big East as a football-only member in 2014.
The Big East currently has 18 members, but will undergo significant membership changes by the time Tulane joins the fold. In fact, the new Big East will look at lot like an old version of Conference USA, with 11 current or former C-USA members in the mix.
In addition to Tulane and ECU, the football-playing, all-sports members would as of now include Connecticut, Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, and beginning in 2013, Houston, SMU, Central Florida and Memphis. Football-only members would include Boise State and San Diego State, who would join for 2013, and Navy, who would join in 2015. Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, DePaul, Villanova and Marquette are all-sports members of the league but do not play football.
The Big East's invitation to Tulane is the latest domino to fall in the new round of conference realignment, which began last week when Maryland and Rutgers agreed to become the 13th and 14th members, respectively, of the Big Ten Conference.
With the Atlantic Coast Conference dropping to an odd number of members (13) with Maryland's pending departure, the league is reportedly looking at a pair of Big East members – Connecticut and Louisville – as its leading candidates to get back to 14 schools. The ACC will expand from 12 to 14 schools beginning next season with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East.
The Green Wave has been a member of Conference USA since the league formed in 1995 as a merger between the Metro and Great Midwest conferences. Prior to that, it was a member of the Metro from 1976-85 and 1989-95 and a charter member of the Southeastern Conference from 1934-66.
In addition to shifting to a higher-profile league, the move makes sense because of Tulane's geographically diverse alumni base. Road conference games in New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago would be a boost to the university's fund-raising efforts.
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