Big East adds five teams

By Lauren Kirschman

The Big East stretched to the West Coast yesterday by voting to include five new members in… The Big East stretched to the West Coast yesterday by voting to include five new members in 2013.

Central Florida, Houston and Pitt football’s bowl opponent Southern Methodist will join the Big East for all sports, while San Diego State and Boise State will join for football only.

“Much like the conference as a whole, the Big East name — though derived 32 years ago based on the geography of our founding members — has evolved into a highly respected brand that transcends borders, boundaries or regions,” Big East commissioner John Marinatto said. “It’s national. Our membership makeup is now reflective of that.”

In September, Pitt and Syracuse declared they will leave the Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference. West Virginia announced its move to the Big 12 in October. Texas Christian University was set to join the Big East next season, but instead accepted an invitation to the Big 12.

Since the announcements, the Big East worked to rebuild a football conference that was dwindling to five teams — Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Connecticut and South Florida.

Currently, Marinatto still holds Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia to the Big East’s 27-month waiting period before they can switch conferences. That would keep the three schools in the Big East until the fall of 2014.

But with five teams set to join the conference in 2013 and Marinatto saying that he wants to add two more football schools, the three schools could switch conferences sooner than expected.

While Pitt and Syracuse aren’t challenging the 27-month waiting period, West Virginia filed a suit against the Big East for the right to join the Big 12 next season. The Big East responded to West Virginia by filing its own lawsuit saying that leaving before the 27-month period would be a breach of contract.

Since then, both West Virginia and the Big East have filed to have each other’s lawsuits dismissed.