Tulane, East Carolina joining Big East
Tulane joined the Big East in all sports on Tuesday, becoming the latest addition to the rapidly rebuilding conference.
East Carolina also is headed to the Big East as a football-only member. Both schools will join the league in 2014.
"The Big East is a distinguished collection of institutions that will be a wonderful home for Tulane," said Scott Cowen, president of the New Orleans-based school. "We look forward to our mutual association and we are delighted to welcome the Big East to the Big Easy."
The reason the Big East opted for 13 schools in 2014 is that the league expects either Louisville or Connecticut to leave for the ACC, sources said. The Cardinals and Huskies are the favorites to replace Maryland, sources said.
UConn president Susan Herbst declined comment Wednesday when asked directly if the school would leave the Big East for the ACC should an invitation be issued. Herbst also would not comment on discussions with the ACC, or say when a decision might be made.
The Big East has been in flux for more than a year. West Virginia, TCU, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Rutgers announced they were leaving, while Temple joined this year. Next season, Boise State, San Diego State, Memphis, UCF, Houston and SMU are scheduled to join the league.
Navy will join as a football-only member in 2015.
Tulane and East Carolina have been competing in Conference USA. In the Big East, the Green Wave will offset the loss of Rutgers to the Big Ten. Rutgers, along with Maryland, is expected to join the Big Ten in 2014.
"We thank East Carolina and charter member Tulane for all their contributions to the league and wish them well," Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a release. "These are unprecedented times in higher education."
The ACC recently lost Maryland to the Big Ten. Connecticut and Louisville have been the focus of speculation as to who might replace the Terrapins as the 14th member of the conference.
The addition of Tulane and East Carolina will give the Big East 13 football members in 2014 -- UConn, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, Tulane, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, SMU, Memphis, Houston and ECU.
Of those 13 schools, nine are former members of Conference USA, two are former Mountain West members and one is a former Mid-American Conference member.
The Big East is negotating a new television contract and stressing its national reach and presence in large markets such as Philadelphia, Dallas and now New Orleans.
Information from ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.