Crouthamel and Shaw pleased over new Big East

Syracuse director of athletics Jake Crouthamel and Chancellor Buzz Shaw were both pleased at the results of the realignment of the Big East, the two said Tuesday at a press conference during halftime of Syracuse's 94-82 win over Team Nike.

Earlier in the day, Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese announced the Big East would be extending invitations to Conference USA teams Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, South Florida and DePaul. The five teams will join the Big East in 2005.

"I am glad it is done," Shaw said. "And I'm glad the way it turned out. I think we have a really good lineup for basketball and football. Of course for basketball, it is instant magic. For football, it is going to be a very, very competitive conference."

"It was orchestrated in such a way that we were able to get things done that we set out to do in a timely manner and in a manner that included discussion with a lot conferences and a lot of teams so that everybody was informed," Crouthamel said. "There was no under the table stuff going on. And I'm very happy with the way that it turned out."

The move came after three Big East teams, Miami, Virginia Tech, and, most recently, Boston College, announced its defections to the ACC.

C-USA, anticipating a move from the Big East, added five schools of its own, getting commitments from Marshall and Central Florida from the Mid-American Conference and Rice, Southern Methodist and Tulsa from the Western Athletic Conference. The five teams will join C-USA in 2005.

The departure of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College will severely weaken the Big East from a football standpoint. Miami and Virginia Tech have made appearances in three of the last four national championships and are currently the two highest ranked teams in the Big East. The three teams leaving will hamper the Big East's ability to get a BCS bid when its contract with the BCS runs out in two years. As a result, the football program will take a hit financially.

"It is clear that we could face some financial difficulties," Shaw said. "But they are not of a crisis dimension. They are the kind we can work with. We will work through this. It will be a faint memory in a few years."

"Let me say this, this is a program that, at least in my time and I suspect before my time, has never had to be subsidized by the University. There are probably only 30 programs in the country that can say that. Whether any can make that statement in five to 10 years with the saturation of television and other reasons is another question."

Still, one can't overlook the new look of the Big East from a basketball standpoint. Losing Miami and Virginia Tech, perennial doormats when it comes to basketball, and replacing them with traditional powerhouses Louisville, Cincinnati along with rising program Marquette will make the Big East the best basketball conference in the county.

"We chose football schools, not basketball schools," Crouthamel said. "We chose football schools that just happen to be darn good basketball schools. Is it a coincidence? Yes, it is."

Coincidence or not, the Big East will be adding two of the most recognizable coaches in college basketball in former Syracuse assistant coach Rick Pitino and Cincinnati's Bob Huggins. In addition, Marquette made an appearance in last year's final four, before being eliminated by Kansas.

"I've said all along we're going to have a great basketball league," basketball head coach Jim Boeheim said. "Everything's settled. We have a good basketball league. Everyone's been talking about it for four months, wasting their energy. It's done."

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