Earlier today, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto announced that The University of Memphis has been accepted as the newest member of the Big East Conference. The Tigers are joining the conference as a full member and will begin play in all sports in the 2013-14 academic year.
This move brings the Big East's football membership to 12 and the full membership to 17. Well, at least that's where it will be when Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia all leave and are replaced by Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida, not to mention the additions of Boise State, San Diego State and the United States Naval Academy as football only schools.
The presidents of the Big East schools approved the invitation of Memphis with an unanimous vote. This addition gives the Big East a school in 13 of the top 30 television markets in the country and all 17 are in one of the top 50 markets.
After the jump: Quotes from all of the important parties.
In the comments section: Your reaction to this move. Necessary step to preserve the conference, or ridiculous step backwards?
John Marinatto, Big East Commissioner:
"Over the past decade, the University of Memphis has demonstrated an unwavering commitment of competing at the highest level in college sports. The University has positioned itself for long-term success by upgrading facilities and investing wisely in various areas of the athletic department including coaching and administration. We are confident that the addition of this outstanding athletics program located in a top 50 media market and in the heart of the nation’s largest conference footprint will further propel the BIG EAST and the University of Memphis to even greater levels of success in the future."
Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida President and Chair of the Big East Board of Directors:
"It is with great pleasure that we officially welcome the University of Memphis to the BIG EAST Conference. 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."
University of Memphis President Dr. Shirley C. Raines:
"This is an historical day for the University of Memphis. 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 BIG EAST Conference Board for their unanimous vote for the University of Memphis and Tiger athletics."
University of Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson:
"This is an exciting day for Tiger athletics. Many years ago we set as a departmental goal the task of being the best that we could be in every athletic endeavor. With today’s invitation to join many of our friends in such a prestigious conference means we have achieved one of our top missions."