SMU has accepted an invitation to join the BIG EAST Conference in all sports, President R. Gerald Turner announced Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. The move fulfills the University’s goal to join a Bowl Championship Series Automatic Qualifier (BCS-AQ) conference, a standard of excellence in college athletics today.
SMU, Houston and the University of Central Florida have accepted full membership into the BIG EAST, while Boise State and San Diego State will compete as members in the sport of football. The BIG EAST Conference Board of Directors, by a unanimous vote of its Presidents, extended the invitations for membership.
SMU, Houston and UCF will begin competing in all BIG EAST‐sponsored sports in the 2013‐14 academic year, while Boise State and San Diego State will start competing in football in the 2013 season.
“Over the last 32 years, the BIG EAST Conference has constantly evolved along with the landscape of college athletics,” said BIG EAST Commissioner John Marinatto. “The inclusion of these five great universities, which bring a unique blend of premier academics, top markets, strong athletics brands and outstanding competitive quality, marks the beginning of a new chapter in that evolution. We are proud to welcome these schools to the BIG EAST family.
“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. It’s national. Our membership makeup is now reflective of that.”
The five new schools join Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and USF as the teams competing in football in the BIG EAST Conference. UCF, Houston and SMU join DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova in all other sports.
With the addition of the five new schools, the BIG EAST will have the largest footprint of any college football conference in the nation, with a coast-to‐coast presence spanning eight states in five different regions of the country.
“This is a great day for SMU,” said Director of Athletics Steve Orsini. “This is a move that will impact all aspects of the collegiate experience at SMU. Our move to the BIG EAST will help us increase our exposure and visibility and will raise SMU’s profile on a national level. BIG EAST membership represents SMU’s return to the highest level of collegiate athletics.”