Providence, RI – The ongoing game of musical chairs in college athletics has its newest player.
The Big East made it official on Wednesday, welcoming Memphis in all sports for the 2013-14 season, completing the conference's goal of having 12 football members.
"This is an historical day for the University of Memphis," said Dr. Shirley C. Raines, University of Memphis President. "On behalf of the faculty, staff, alumni, fans, students and especially, our student-athletes, we are thrilled to accept the invitation from the Big East Conference to become a member in all sports in 2013. We are grateful to president Judy Genshaft and the entire Conference Board for their unanimous vote for the University of Memphis and Tiger athletics."
The conference, once a basketball powerhouse confined to the largest markets in the northeastern part of the country, has recently been adding members to offset the eventual exits of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia and to reach its goal of having 12 football teams.
Memphis, in leaving Conference USA, would be the 12th.
"It is with great pleasure that we officially welcome the University of Memphis to the Big East Conference," stated Genshaft, University of South Florida president and chair of the conference's board of directors. "Our Board was very impressed with the University, its ongoing commitment to academic and athletic excellence, as well as its strong community support. We are excited about renewing old relationships, starting new ones and look forward to working together with president Raines and her team in the future."
The Big East had already announced the additions of Central Florida, SMU and Houston as full members and Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football only.
It hopes to create two divisions and stage an annual conference championship game.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced in September that they were leaving for the ACC and West Virginia is moving to the Big 12. TCU, which had agreed to leave the Mountain West for the Big East, decided instead to join the Big 12.
In 2015, the football-playing teams in the Big East are slated to be Boise State, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Navy, Rutgers, San Diego State, South Florida and SMU.