Tulane University will join the Big East Conference starting with the 2014-15 school year, entering a league that last week lost Rutgers University to the Big Ten.
The New Orleans-based school will leave Conference USA and join the Big East for all sports, President Scott Cowen said today in a news conference. East Carolina University will join as a football-only member, ESPN reported, citing unidentified people.
Tulane has an undergraduate enrollment of 8,423 and sponsors 16 sports, 10 of which are women’s teams. The university is located about 340 miles (550 kilometers) away from the closest Big East school, the University of Houston, which will join the conference next year.
“As far as I am concerned, this is a win-win-win,” Cowen said. “A win for New Orleans, a win for Tulane University and a win for the Big East.”
Big East presidents voted unanimously to extend an invitation to Tulane, the conference said today in an e-mailed release. Cowen said his hand shook as he signed the contract making the move official.
“Tulane University is an outstanding academic institution and is committed to excellence in athletics,” conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said in the release. “They will be a valued member of the Big East.”
East Carolina spokesman Tom McClellan declined in an e-mail to comment on the ESPN report, citing a 5 p.m. news conference at the school in Greenville, North Carolina. Big East spokesman Craig Sullivan didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on ECU’s reported membership.
Tulane’s football team was 2-10 this year, its 10th consecutive losing season. The team is 33-86 in that span, and hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2002.
The Green Wave men’s basketball team has had a similar run, with three winning seasons in the past 10 years and no postseason tournament appearances. The school’s baseball team advanced to the College World Series in 2001 and 2005, and its women’s golf team played in National Collegiate Athletic Association national championships in 2009 and 2010.
Rutgers last week became the fourth team to announce its plans to leave the conference in the past two years. West Virginia joined the Big 12 this season, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse are set to join the ACC next year.
The moves leave 18 schools participating in most Big East sports as of July 1, 2014. The conference’s football lineup as of July 2015 will include 14 members, including the two newcomers as well as Central Florida, Boise State, Memphis, Houston, Navy, San Diego State and Southern Methodist, all of whom competed in other conferences this season.
“I am so proud of our university and the fact that we are joining a conference with a footprint all over the United States,” Cowen said.
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