"The BIG EAST Conference has a consistent and successful history of being unique and entrepreneurial," stated Commissioner Michael Tranghese. "This bowl partnership concept is the latest example of that innovation and illustrates the efforts of our membership to provide our fans with an expanded postseason bowl menu. This group of five - BIG EAST Conference, Big 12 Conference, University of Notre Dame, Toyota Gator Bowl and Vitalis Sun Bowl - had the foresight to realize that we could accomplish more collectively than we could as individual entities, a trend that I think is clearly good for the future of college athletics."
The Toyota Gator Bowl will continue to be played on New Year's Day each year in Jacksonville, Fla. while the Vitalis Sun Bowl will again be played on New Year's Eve day in El Paso, Texas and will be televised by CBS. Specific details about the team selection process for each bowl game are currently being discussed.
In years when selecting a BIG EAST team, the Toyota Gator Bowl or Vitalis Sun Bowl will have the first pick after the BIG EAST's representative to the Bowl Championship Series has been determined.
The Atlantic Coast Conference will provide the opposition in the Toyota Gator Bowl and the Pac-10 Conference will participate in the Vitalis Sun Bowl.
BIG EAST Conference member schools have had a long and successful history and tradition with both bowls over the years, having sent four separate teams to eight Vitalis Sun Bowls (West Virginia in 1938, `49 and `87; Pittsburgh in `75 and `89; Cincinnati in 1947 and `51 and Louisville in 1958) and three teams to a total of 10 Toyota Gator Bowls (West Virginia in 1982, `89, `97, `04 and `05; Pittsburgh in 1956, `77 and `80 and Syracuse in 1966 and `96). In addition, both bowls boast a lengthy and storied history themselves. The Vitalis Sun Bowl was first played in 1935 and is the second oldest bowl game. Only the Rose Bowl, which started in 1902, is older. The Toyota Gator Bowl is the sixth oldest bowl, first played in 1946.
The BIG EAST Conference was created in 1979, is a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series and represents eight Division I-A member institutions for football including the University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of Louisville, University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, University of South Florida, Syracuse University and West Virginia University.