|Big East Conference|
|NCAA||Division I FBS|
|Members||17 (full: 16; associate: 1)|
|Sports fielded||24 (men's: 11; women's: 13)|
|Region||Eastern United States|
|Headquarters||Providence, Rhode Island|
|Commissioner||John Marinatto (since 2009)|
The Big East Conference is a collegiate athletics conference consisting of sixteen universities in the northeastern, southeastern and midwestern United States. The conference's 17 members (16 full-time and 1 associate member) participate in 23 NCAA sports. Eight of the seventeen conference schools are football members and the Big East competes as a BCS conference in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the top level of NCAA competition in that sport (also known by its former designation: Division I-A). Three members have football programs but are not Big East football schools: Georgetown and Villanova compete in the Football Championship Subdivision and Notre Dame plays as an FBS independent. The other five schools – Seton Hall, St. John's, DePaul, Marquette, and Providence) discontinued their football programs.
The Big East has had all eight members play in bowl games since 2005 realignment and has had seven of eight teams ranked in the Top 25 since 2003. In that time, the Big East has seen the emergence of new national players West Virginia rising to as high as No. 1 and was ranked in the Top 10 for three-straight years (2005, 2006, 2007) (South Florida rising as high as #2, Louisville as high as #3, Rutgers as high as #7, Pittsburgh as high as #9, Connecticut as high as #13 and University of Cincinnati as high as #3 in BCS standings). Also, Big East football has seen an increase in attendance and is enjoying a new, $250 million plus television package that lasts through 2013.
In basketball, Big East teams account for 40 Final Four appearances and 10 NCAA Championships, numbers only surpassed by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference (Big Ten) and Pac-10 Conference. Of the Big East's 16 full members, all but South Florida have been to the Final Four, the most of any conference, though it should be noted that Louisville, Marquette, DePaul, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh made their trips before joining the Big East. In 2006, the Big East set the record for the most teams sent to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship by a single conference with eight and repeated the feat two years later.
The Big East was founded in 1979 when Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, and Syracuse invited Seton Hall, Rutgers, Connecticut, Holy Cross, and Boston College to form a conference primarily focused on basketball, with Rutgers and Holy Cross declining to join. Villanova joined a year later in 1980 and Pittsburgh joined in 1982. In 1985, Penn State University applied for membership, but was rejected, with only five schools in favor (Penn State needed six out of eight). It was long rumored that Syracuse cast the deciding vote against Penn State, but Mike Tranghese confirmed that this was not the case and that Syracuse had, in fact, voted for Penn State's inclusion.
About a decade after the conference's inception, Big East members decided to become a major football conference and thus added five schools including four-time champion Miami, Temple, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Rutgers. Penn State joined the Big Ten Conference. The inaugural Big East football season launched in 1991. West Virginia and Rutgers were football-only members until 1995, Virginia Tech was a football-only member until 2001, with Temple remaining a football-only member until 2004, after failing to attract enough consistent fan support. The Big East offered Notre Dame a non-football membership effective 1995. This led to an unusual conference structure with some schools competing in Division I basketball only.
This had long led to rumors of instability, and in 2003, ongoing press reports of tensions between the football schools and the basketball schools finally exploded into a months-long public tug-of-war between the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference over several Big East members. The end result was that three Big East schools — Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College — moved to the ACC, while five teams moved to the Big East from Conference USA — Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Marquette, and DePaul. For more details on this topic, see 2005 NCAA football realignment.
The addition of the three football schools, along with Big East non-football member Connecticut moving up to the Big East football conference, ensured that the league would keep the minimum eight teams needed to keep its BCS bid. In addition two traditional basketball teams, DePaul and Marquette, were added to gain the Chicago and Milwaukee television markets and help the already solid basketball status of the conference.
Currently, the Big East represents the majority of the large, athletically competitive private Catholic schools, while public schools UConn, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, West Virginia and Cincinnati are located in areas with large Catholic communities. Five of the founding seven schools are Catholic schools — Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and Boston College.
Big East schools compete in Division I in basketball and Olympic sports. Football members of the conference participate in Division I FBS. Notre Dame remains an FBS independent, while Georgetown and Villanova have Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) football programs. Georgetown football competes in the Patriot League. Villanova competed in the Atlantic Ten through the 2006 season, but along with all other members of the A-10 football conference joined the new football conference launched by the Colonial Athletic Association in 2007.
The eight schools that play football in the conference are all state-supported (or in the case of Pittsburgh, state-related) with the exception of Syracuse (a private but secular institution), whereas the eight schools that do not play football in the conference are all affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
The full member institutions of the Big East are:
|University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, Ohio||1819||Public||39,667||Yes||2005||Bearcats||$1,009,000,000|
|University of Connecticut||Storrs, Connecticut||1881||Public||29,383||Yes||1979||Huskies||$336,000,000|
|DePaul University||Chicago, Illinois||1898||Private/Catholic||23,570||No||2005||Blue Demons||$402,000,000|
|Georgetown University||Washington, D.C.||1789||Private/Catholic||13,612||No*||1979||Hoyas||$1,000,000,000|
|University of Louisville||Louisville, Kentucky||1798||Public||21,689||Yes||2005||Cardinals||$796,000,000|
|Marquette University||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||1881||Private/Catholic||11,510||No||2005||Golden Eagles||$337,000,000|
|University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame, Indiana||1842||Private/Catholic||11,415||No*||1995||Fighting Irish||$6,500,000,000|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||1787||Public/State-Related||32,105||Yes||1982||Panthers||$2,800,000,000|
|Providence College||Providence, Rhode Island||1917||Private/Catholic||3,648||No||1979||Friars||$111,000,000|
|Rutgers University||New Brunswick, New Jersey||1766||Public||34,696||Yes||1991||Scarlet Knights||$654,000,000|
|St. John's University||Queens, New York||1870||Private/Catholic||19,813||No||1979||Red Storm||$500,000,000|
|Seton Hall University||South Orange, New Jersey||1856||Private/Catholic||9,700||No||1979||Pirates||$231,000,000|
|University of South Florida||Tampa, Florida||1956||Public||40,261||Yes||2005||Bulls||$328,000,000|
|Syracuse University||Syracuse, New York||1870||Private/Non-sectarian||19,638||Yes||1979||Orange||$1,100,000,000|
|Villanova University||Villanova, Pennsylvania||1842||Private/Catholic||9,500||No*||1980||Wildcats||$335,000,000|
|West Virginia University||Morgantown, West Virginia||1867||Public||28,839||Yes||1991||Mountaineers||$430,000,000|
* Denotes schools that sponsor football programs outside the Big East Conference (see above)
|Loyola University Maryland||Baltimore, Maryland||MAAC||Private/Catholic||3,501||Greyhounds||Women's lacrosse||$143,000,000|
|Boston College||Full member||1979-2005||ACC|
|Temple University||Football only||1991-2004||A-10, MAC (football)|
|University of Miami||Full member||1991-2004||ACC|
|Virginia Tech||Full member||2000-2004||ACC|
|2009-2010 Men's Basketball Average Home Attendance|
The Big East was founded by seven charter schools in 1979 (Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, Syracuse, Seton Hall, Connecticut, and Boston College) with the intent of creating a powerhouse basketball conference. Villanova joined the following year, followed by Pittsburgh in 1982.
It wouldn't take long for the conference to meet its original aim, with Georgetown, led by senior Sleepy Floyd and freshman Patrick Ewing, making the NCAA Championship Game in 1982. Just two years later, in 1984, Georgetown won the Big East's first NCAA basketball championship with a victory over the University of Houston.
The following year three Big East teams (Villanova, St. John's, and Georgetown) all advanced to the Final Four, culminating in Villanova's stunning championship game victory over the heavily-favored Georgetown Hoyas. The conference's 1985 success was nearly duplicated in 1987, when Syracuse and a surprising Providence both made the Final Four, followed by the Orangemen's narrow loss to Indiana University in the tournament final. Two years later, the Seton Hall Pirates also advanced to the NCAA Championship Game, but were defeated by the Michigan Wolverines in an overtime heartbreaker.
|Team||NCAA Championships||Final Fours||NCAA appearances|
|Notre Dame||0 (2 Helms)||1||30|
|Pittsburgh||0 (2 Helms)||1||22|
|St. John's||0 (1 Helms)||2||27|
|Syracuse||1 (2 Helms)||4||34|
|Helms are pre-NCAA tournament era (pre-1939) mythical national championships awarded by the Helms Athletic Foundation.
*Does not include Villanova's 1971 NCAA appearance and Final Four nor DePaul's 1986-89 NCAA appearances that were vacated by the NCAA.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Georgetown, St. John's, and Syracuse were the primary powers in the conference. Georgetown was led by John Thompson Jr., who was named three times as the conference Coach of the Year. They won five regular season conference championships and six Big East Tournaments to go with their 1984 national title. St. John's was led by Lou Carnesecca, who won the National Coach of the Year honor in 1983 and 1985. He led the Redmen (now the Red Storm) to the 1985 Final Four, and made a post-season appearance in each of his 24 years at the helm. Syracuse has been led by alumnus Jim Boeheim since the 1977 season. He was named conference Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1991. During this period, the Orangemen won five regular season conference championships, three Big East Tournaments, and were invited to the NCAA Tournament every year but two (1981 and 1982), losing the 1987 National Final to Indiana. Syracuse eventually won its first national title in 2003, led by coach Boeheim and freshman Carmelo Anthony.
From the mid 1990's to mid 2000's, men's basketball in the Big East was largely dominated by Connecticut. Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun's program, led by such stars as Ray Allen, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Caron Butler and Emeka Okafor, averaged nearly 26 wins per year during that time span, won numerous Big East regular season and tournament championships, and claimed the National Championship in both 1999 and 2004.
The conference got a record eight teams into the NCAA Men's Tournament in 2006 and matched their own record in 2008. At the start of the 2008–2009 season, many sports analysts predicted that the conference would surpass the record by sending 10 teams to the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. When the brackets were revealed, seven made it, but three of them (Louisville, Pittsburgh and Connecticut) gained #1 seeds, and Louisville earned the top seed overall. Connecticut and Villanova (a #3 seed) both reached the Final Four.
The conference has a number of former players currently playing in the National Basketball Association with some of the most recent being Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Caron Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Ryan Gomes, Austin Croshere, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Dwayne Wade, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Troy Murphy, Hakim Warrick, Quincy Douby, Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Steve Novak, Rudy Gay, Matt Carroll, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Ollie, Etan Thomas, Samuel Dalembert, Charlie Villanueva, Donte Greene, Ron Artest, Chris Quinn, Jason Hart, Tim Thomas, Aaron Gray, Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Joe Alexander, Marcus Williams, Jonny Flynn, Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Roy Hibbert, Travis Diener, and Wesley Matthews.
Big East women's basketball is nearly as powerful as the conference's men's programs. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma has led his women's team to six national championships (including four between 2000 and 2004) and three undefeated seasons (1995, 2002 and 2009). Connecticut set the record for longest winning streak in all of NCAA women's basketball history with a 70 game winning streak stretching from 2001-2003. This streak was ended in 2003 when Villanova beat Connecticut for the Big East tournament title, in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in women's basketball (Villanova would go on to reach the Elite Eight that year). Under the strength of the Connecticut program, and to a lesser extent 2007 national runner-up Rutgers, and 2001 national champion Notre Dame, the Big East has emerged as one of the major powers in women's college basketball. In 2009 two Big East schools met in the national championship game (Connecticut and Louisville) and the South Florida women's basketball team defeated the University of Kansas to become the WNIT Champions.
In 2010, the Big East created a men's lacrosse league with Georgetown, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, Syracuse, and Villanova participating. Men's lacrosse is the 24th sport sponsored by the Big East Conference and is the 11th men's sport. The teams play a six-game single round-robin regular-season schedule. There will be no Big East men's lacrosse championship tournament for 2010. Instead, the Big East champion will be determined by conference-game winning percentage at the conclusion of the regular season. This winner will then receive the league's automatic bid to the 16-team NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship.
|Team||NCAA Championships||Final Fours||NCAA appearances|
|*Does not include Syracuse's 1990 NCAA National Championship that was vacated by the NCAA for rules infractions.|
|2009 Average Football Attendance|
|Big East Conference Average||44,804|
Big East began football during the 1991-1992 season with the addition of Miami and was a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series. The league obtained immediate legitimacy with the addition of powerhouse Miami.
In the league's early years the University of Miami dominated, winning nine of the first thirteen championships and two national championships in 1991 and 2001. Virginia Tech also did well, winning the conference in 1995 and 1996 and earning a #2 national ranking in 1999. West Virginia and Syracuse were the only other teams to win conference titles during the league's original alignment.
The conference experienced a major reconstruction when Miami and Virginia Tech left for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004, followed by Boston College in 2005. Initially, Syracuse University was in place to make the jump instead of Virginia Tech, but in 2003, the governor of Virginia put pressure on the ACC to ensure that Virginia Tech was taken over Syracuse. Syracuse was left to remain in the Big East. Temple had joined the Big East for football in 1991, but found it difficult to compete with the other league teams. The conference was compelled to expel the Owls voluntarily in 2004 (after playing two seasons as an independent, Temple joined the MAC in 2007).
The universities that replaced them were Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati from Conference USA. The league also invited the University of Connecticut to play football a year earlier than planned.
At about this time, the BCS announced that it would adjust the automatic bids granted to its six founding conferences based on results from 2004–07, and that there would be five, six, or seven such bids starting in 2008. The obvious inference was that soon the Big East might lose its bid.
The conference’s fortunes improved in 2005. The three new teams from Conference USA began play that year, restoring the league to eight teams. West Virginia won the conference title, defeated SEC champion Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, and finished 11–1 and finished #5 in the AP poll. Newcomer Louisville also ranked in the Top 20.
Another former member for football only was Temple. Unlike other football only members in the past, they did not gain full membership in the Big East – due to objections from crosstown rivals Villanova (who do not play football in the Big East). After 14 seasons of mostly poor performance, Temple was kicked out of the conference following the 2004 season. They currently play football in the Mid-American Conference (for that sport only), and are the first school to leave a BCS conference to later join a non-BCS conference.
In 2006, West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers all entered November undefeated. However, they did not stay that way, as in a trio of exciting games over the next month, Louisville defeated West Virginia 44–34, Rutgers defeated Louisville 28–25, and West Virginia defeated Rutgers 41–39 in three overtimes. Rutgers’ resurgence after a century of mostly futile play was a national story, but Louisville won the conference title in the end. In bowl action, the Big East went 5–0, including an Orange Bowl victory for Louisville over Wake Forest and a win by West Virginia over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. ouisville would finish the season ranked 6th, West Virginia 10th, and Rutgers 12th in the final AP Poll.
In 2007, USF, rose to #2 in the BCS rankings. They lost their next three games, however, to drop out of the rankings. They eventually finished the season #21 in the final BCS polls. The Connecticut Huskies, getting as high as #13, and West Virginia remained in the top 25. Cincinnati also rose as high as #15 in the rankings eventually finishing the season with 10 wins and a #17 ranking. Connecticut lost subsequent games and dropped substantially in the rankings, ultimately finishing 25th. On the final day of the season, Pittsburgh upset #2 WVU 13–9 in the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl to give the Huskies a share of the conference championship, while WVU was stopped on the doorstep of the BCS National Championship Game. In bowl games, WVU upset the Big 12 Champion Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, despite having lost their highly touted coach, Rich Rodriguez to Michigan less than a month before the game. West Virginia finished the season ranked #6 and Cincinnati finished ranked #17.
|Year||Conference Champion||Conference Record||Bowl Coalition/Alliance/BCS Bowl Representative|
|1993||West Virginia||7-0-0||West Virginia|
|1994||Miami (Fla.)||7-0-0||Miami (Fla.)|
|1995||Virginia Tech / Miami (Fla.)||6-1-0||Virginia Tech|
|1996||Virginia Tech / Miami (Fla.) / Syracuse||6-1||Virginia Tech|
|1999||Virginia Tech||7-0||Virginia Tech|
|2000||Miami (Fla.)||7-0||Miami (Fla.)|
|2001||Miami (Fla.)||7-0||Miami (Fla.)|
|2002||Miami (Fla.)||7-0||Miami (Fla.)|
|2003||Miami (Fla.) / West Virginia||6-1||Miami (Fla.)|
|2004||Boston College / Pittsburgh / Syracuse / West Virginia||4-2||Pittsburgh|
|2005||West Virginia||7-0||West Virginia|
|2007||West Virginia / Connecticut||5-2||West Virginia|
|1||Bowl Championship Series||Big East #1†|
|2a||Gator Bowl||Big East #2‡ vs ACC #3|
|2b||Sun Bowl||Big East #2‡ vs Pac-10 #3|
|3||Meineke Car Care Bowl||Big East #3 vs ACC #5/6|
|4||International Bowl||Big East #4 vs MAC #3|
|5||PapaJohns.com Bowl||Big East #5 vs SEC #9|
|6||St. Petersburg Bowl||Big East #6 vs C-USA|
|School||Football stadium||Capacity||Basketball arena||Capacity|
|Cincinnati||Nippert Stadium||35,097||Fifth Third Arena||13,176|
|Connecticut||Rentschler Field||40,000||Gampel Pavilion
|DePaul||non-football school||Allstate Arena (men)
Sullivan Athletic Center (women)
|Georgetown||see Patriot League1||Verizon Center (men)
McDonough Gymnasium (women)
|Louisville||Papa John's Cardinal Stadium 2||42,000||Freedom Hall||18,865|
|Marquette||non-football school||Bradley Center (men)
Al McGuire Center (women)
|Notre Dame||see Division I-FBS independents1||Purcell Pavilion at the Edmund P. Joyce Center||9,149|
|Pittsburgh||Heinz Field||65,050||Petersen Events Center||12,508|
|Providence||non-football school||Dunkin' Donuts Center (men)
Alumni Hall (women)
|Rutgers||Rutgers Stadium 6||52,454||Louis Brown Athletic Center (The RAC)||8,000|
|St. John's||non-football school||Madison Square Garden (some men games) &
Carnesecca Arena (men & women) 3
|Seton Hall||non-football school||Prudential Center (men)
Walsh Gymnasium (women)
|USF||Raymond James Stadium||65,000||USF Sun Dome||11,324|
|Syracuse||Carrier Dome||50,000||Carrier Dome 5||33,000|
|Villanova||see Colonial Athletic Association1||Wachovia Center
The Pavilion 4
|West Virginia||Mountaineer Field||60,000||WVU Coliseum||14,000|
1 Football stadiums for Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Villanova are not "conference facilities" as those universities are not members of Big East Football.
2 The University of Louisville is in the process of a $63 million expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to 63,600 and constructing a new $350 million downtown waterfront arena that will seat 23,500. Both projects are funded and expected to be complete by 2010.
3 St. John's men generally play their Big East home schedule in Madison Square Garden and their non-conference home schedule on campus at Carnesecca Arena. In 2005–06, St. John's played only one non-conference game at MSG and one Big East game on campus.
4 For certain high-profile home games, Villanova uses the Wachovia Center, and previously used the Wachovia Spectrum. In 2005-06, Villanova played three home games at the Wachovia Center and the rest on campus at The Pavilion. In 2006, the Wachovia Center was also a first-round site for the NCAA Tournament. Under NCAA rules, a venue is not considered a home court unless a school plays four or more regular-season games there; this enabled Villanova to play its first two tournament games at the Wachovia Center (but Villanova was not considered the host school for that sub-region — the Atlantic 10 Conference was). This situation occurred again in 2009, with Villanova playing (and winning) its first two tournament games at Wachovia.
5 For Syracuse basketball games in the Carrier Dome, the court is laid out on one end of the field and stands are erected beside it. This makes the Carrier Dome the largest on-campus venue for college basketball in the nation.
6 Late in 2006, Rutgers added approximately 3,000 temporary end zone seats that remained for the 2007 season (total 45,000). In 2008, Rutgers began a stadium expansion project which is expected to increase capacity to over 55,000 seats and add luxury and club seats. The premium seating is projected to be ready for the 2008 season and the additional 12,000 end zone seats are expected for the 2009 season. The stadium is also expected to receive a new name as part of the financing package depends on a name sponsorship.
|Year||Men's B-ball Regular Season Champion||Men's B-ball Tournament Champion||Women's B-ball Regular Season Champion||Women's B-ball Tournament Champion||Football Champion|
|1982/83||Boston College/St. John's/Villanova||St. John's||Providence/St. John's||St. John's|
|1984/85||St. John's||Georgetown||St. John's/Villanova||St. John's|
|1985/86||St. John's/Syracuse||St. John's||Providence||Providence|
|1991/92||Georgetown/St. John's/Seton Hall||Syracuse||Miami||Miami||Miami|
|1992/93||Seton Hall||Seton Hall||Georgetown/Miami||Georgetown||Miami|
|1996/97||Boston College/Villanova||Boston College||Connecticut||Connecticut||Virginia Tech/Miami/Syracuse|
|1999/00||Syracuse/Miami||St. John's||Connecticut||Connecticut||Virginia Tech†|
|2000/01||Boston College (east)/Notre Dame (west)||Boston College||Connecticut/Notre Dame||Connecticut||Miami†|
|2001/02||Connecticut (east)/Pittsburgh (west)||Connecticut||Connecticut||Connecticut||Miami†|
|2002/03||Syracuse & Pittsburgh (west)/ Connecticut & Boston College (east)||Pittsburgh||Connecticut||Villanova||Miami†|
|2003/04||Pittsburgh||Connecticut||Connecticut||Boston College||Miami†/West Virginia|
|2004/05||Boston College/Connecticut||Syracuse||Rutgers||Connecticut||Pittsburgh†/West Virginia/Boston College/Syracuse|
†Received the Conference's BCS (or Alliance Bowl) berth