"This is a very exciting day in the history of the BIG EAST," said Commissioner Michael Tranghese. "We are thrilled to be joined by five great institutions, all of whom exemplify the characteristics of sportsmanship and scholarship that are central to the BIG EAST tradition. We look forward to the added enthusiasm and vigorous competition our new members will bring to our men's and women's sports and to the expanded reach into even more of the nation's top media markets our conference will achieve under our new structure."
"The addition of five highly-competitive institutions today ensures that the BIG EAST will remain one of the nation's premier athletic conferences," said Rev. Edmund J. Dobbin, OSA, President of Villanova University and Chair of the BIG EAST Presidents. "The extraordinary spirit of cooperation that existed among our membership during the past few months enabled us to work quickly and efficiently to enhance our future."
"For the past several months, everyone connected with the BIG EAST has worked creatively and cooperatively to build an even stronger conference," said Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh and incoming Chair of the league's Presidents. "Great credit is due the professional staff of the conference and our athletic directors, as well as the Presidents and Chancellors who have been actively involved in the restructuring process. We are excited about our new members, the markets we serve, our expanded geographic reach, the high levels of performance we will bring to every sport, and the opportunities we will continue to provide our student-athletes."
The University of Cincinnati, with an enrollment of 34,000, sponsors 18 sports. The Bearcats were one of only three schools nationally in 2002-03 to send its football, men's basketball, women's basketball and women's volleyball teams to postseason play.
DePaul University, with an enrollment of 23,600, sponsors 15 sports. DePaul has sent its softball team to seven straight NCAA Tournaments.
The University of Louisville, with an enrollment of 21,089, sponsors 21 sports. The Cardinals have appeared in five straight football bowl games.
The Marquette University men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Final Four this past March. The school, which has an enrollment of 11,000, sponsors 14 sports.
The University of South Florida, with an enrollment of 41,392, has sent more teams to NCAA postseason play than any current member of Conference USA. USF sponsors 18 sports.
The BIG EAST Conference, with its headquarters in Providence, R.I., is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2003-04. The league takes pride in its long list of accomplishments. Providing opportunities to excel amongst the nation's best, both athletically and academically, has always been its mission.
Since opening its doors in 1979, the league has won 22 national championships in six different sports and 118 student-athletes have won individual national titles. More than 300 studentathletes have earned Academic All-America honors.
In 2005-06, The BIG EAST Conference will include: University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, DePaul University, Georgetown University, University of Louisville, Marquette University, University of Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh, Providence College, Rutgers University, St. John's University, Seton Hall University, University of South Florida, Syracuse University, Villanova University, West Virginia University.