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Big East Expansion: Conference Releases Statement On Temple Addition, Villanova Football Future

The Big East officially announced the addition of the Temple Owls in a Monday press conference at Madison Square Garden.

In a statement, the Big East talked about the addition of Temple as a full member and also referenced the FBS future of the Villanova Wildcats.

NEW YORK - The BIG EAST Conference has formally announced the addition of Temple University, a comprehensive research and academic institution that has impressive athletic achievements, as a full conference member. The Owls will begin competing in the BIG EAST in football in the 2012-13 academic year and in all sports for 2013-14.

The BIG EAST Conference Board of Directors, by a unanimous vote of its Presidents, extended the invitation for membership to Temple. "The addition of Temple University further strengthens the BIG EAST Conference, providing the solid foundation it requires to move forward confidently and boldly," stated John Marinatto, Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference."

"We are proud to add Temple University as a member of The BIG EAST Conference," said Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida and Chair of the BIG EAST CEO Executive Committee. "Temple will add to the overall strength of the BIG EAST with its competitive athletics programs and its prestigious academic reputation."

"This is arguably the greatest day in the history of Temple Athletics," said Temple University Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw. "For the first time we will have all of our athletic programs playing in one conference, and there is no other conference that is a better fit for Temple than the BIG EAST. This move will benefit not just Temple University, its student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans, but also the city of Philadelphia. We look forward to being a great partner in this great conference, to renewing old rivalries and forging new ones."

Founded in 1884 in Philadelphia, Pa., Temple has 39,000 students on nine campuses and 333 academic degree programs. Its athletic teams compete and succeed at the highest levels. The Owls sponsor 24 sports and have approximately 600 student-athletes.

In football, Temple is coming off a 9-4 season that ended with a victory in the New Mexico Bowl. In the last four years, the Owls, who play at Lincoln Financial Field, have won 31 games. Temple competed as a football member in the BIG EAST from 1991-2004.

The Temple men's basketball program has a long tradition of success. They have participated in the last four NCAA Championships and have made 29 NCAA appearances overall and twice have advanced to the Final Four. The women's basketball program is on a streak of eight straight NCAA invitations. Temple is one of only six schools nationally to have its men's and women's basketball programs compete in each of the last four NCAA Championships.

Temple's student-athletes are also successful in the classroom. Last year, 343 student-athletes were honored for earning cumulative grade point averages above 3.0 for a semester. Eleven Owl teams compiled grade point averages of above 3.0 for a semester. In the 2011 fall semester, 80 student-athletes made the conference honor roll.

The addition of Temple increases the BIG EAST's football membership to 13 schools. When the other new members begin competing in the BIG EAST, the league will have 18 full members. In December, the BIG EAST announced the additions of the University of Central Florida, University of Houston and Southern Methodist University as full members and Boise State University and San Diego State University as football members. In 2012, the Naval Academy has been added as a football member and the University of Memphis became a member in all sports.

With the BIG EAST's new membership group, the BIG EAST's television reach will be more than 31 million homes, which is nearly 28 percent of all U.S. television households. Fourteen conference members will be located among the top 30 television markets and 18 will be in the top 50.

The BIG EAST already had the largest media footprint in college athletics and the addition of Temple makes that footprint even larger. Temple will join Villanova University as a Big East member in the Philadelphia market - the nation's fourth largest market with over three million television homes. Villanova, Temple and the BIG EAST have worked closely together throughout this process to ensure all three organizations will succeed in the Philadelphia market.

The BIG EAST Conference Board of Directors also unanimously voted to continue working closely with Villanova University regarding its FBS football future and, in doing so, take into account its longstanding relationship and many contributions to the Conference over the past three decades to give all due consideration to a football membership application.

The Conference also fully supports the extensive, thoughtful and thorough process that Villanova is utilizing to evaluate its football program. To validate the BIG EAST Conference's support of Villanova and its potential admission as a football program, the Conference has committed to offer financial assistance to cover future costs incurred by Villanova to exploring BIG EAST football membership.

In addition and to further demonstrate its support and consideration, the Conference will pledge to waive the football entry fee if Villanova is admitted within the next three years into the Conference as a football playing member, provided that it satisfies the Conference's requirements for membership and the NCAA's requirements for membership. We are confident that Villanova's process will result in an outcome that's in the best interest of the University and its accomplished athletics program.

In 2012, the BIG EAST football membership will consist of Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple and the University of South Florida. In 2013, Boise State, UCF, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU will be added and in 2015, the U.S. Naval Academy will join the league.

In 2014, the BIG EAST basketball membership will include UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Houston, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's, Seton Hall, SMU, Temple, USF and Villanova.

For more on Temple, visit our team pages for football and basketball. For more on Villanova, visit our team page or our blog The Nova Blog. For more on the Big East, visit Big East Coast Bias, or visit our page for conference realignment news.