Providence, RI – The Big East has announced that Navy will join the conference for football only, effective for the 2015 season.
Navy's addition will give the Big East 11 football schools. In December, the league brought in Central Florida, Houston and SMU as full members to go along with Boise State and San Diego State as football members to help offset the eventual losses of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
"America's first national football conference is adding a program with true national appeal," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement on Tuesday. "Navy's decision to make the Big East its first football conference home after over 100 years of independence demonstrates the value of our new expansion model and the long-term viability of our football product. The Big East is truly proud to be associated with one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country and one of the most storied programs in college football."
Navy has played as a football independent since the program began in 1879. The academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland, has produced Heisman Trophy winners in Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach, as well as one national championship team.
"After careful consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interests of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and the Brigade of Midshipmen," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller, USN. "While our independent status has served Navy football well to date, Big East conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future."
The Big East is still planning to add one more football school to reach 12, creating two divisions to stage an annual conference championship game.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh decided to leave the Big East for the ACC in September, while West Virginia announced its departure for the Big 12 in October. TCU, which had agreed to leave the Mountain West for the Big East, decided instead to join the Big 12.
In 2015, the Big East football playing members will consist of Boise State, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Navy, Rutgers, San Diego State, South Florida and SMU.