Rebuilding conference adds crucial piece

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The Big East has acquired all the pieces needed to build a new coast-to-coast conference. Putting them all together, though, is going to take a while.

Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson announced Wednesday that the school became the 12th member of the Big East conference. It will compete in all sports.  JIM WEBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JIM WEBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson announced Wednesday that the school became the 12th member of the Big East conference. It will compete in all sports.

The conference wanted to rebuild itself into a 12-team football league that can hold a championship game, and Memphis became that 12th member on Wednesday when it accepted an invite it has long coveted.

But the new Big East isn’t scheduled to be fully functional until the 2015 football season. As for the next three years, what the Big East will look like is anybody’s guess.

Memphis is the seventh school, and fourth from Conference USA, to sign up since December for future membership in the Big East. The Tigers will compete in the Big East in all sports.

“It certainly is an historic day for us,” University of Memphis President Shirley Raines said during a teleconference with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto and Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson.

Memphis has been trying to upgrade its conference affiliation for years, and the Big East was always the most likely landing spot.

Now with the Big East in need of replacements for West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, there was finally room for Memphis.

Marinatto called Memphis a “perfect fit.”

In December, the Big East announced Boise State and San Diego State from the Mountain West Conference would join in 2013 for football only, and Houston, Southern Methodist University and Central Florida, from C-USA, would become members in all sports.

In January, Navy football jumped on board, though that won’t happen until 2015.

Memphis gives the Big East 11 football teams committed for the 2013 season, still one short of the 12 needed under NCAA rules to hold a conference championship game. The league could ask the NCAA for a waiver to play a title game with less than 12, though Marinatto said there are no plans for that and the Big East championship football game will debut after Navy joins.


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