Dear Alumni, Parents and Friends:
I want to provide an update regarding the Big East Conference and how changes announced this afternoon will impact Villanova University and the Big East moving forward.
This morning, the Conference's Board of Directors invited Temple University into the Big East for football, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year, and as a full member in all sports in 2013-2014.
Villanova endorsed Temple University's invitation, and while some of you may wonder why we would support adding a second Big East team to the Philadelphia market, it was clear that Villanova University will benefit from the expansion as will the Big East and the City of Philadelphia. We knew that we wouldn't be the first pair of same-conference/same-market teams: Duke and UNC, Cal and Stanford, and UCLA and USC have all found ways to be highly successful in their respective markets.
First and foremost, we saw this expansion strategy as the best way to ensure our University is strongly positioned to achieve our overall goals and strategic vision. In addition, this approach will further fortify the Big East brand in the Philadelphia market.
Throughout the process, I worked closely with the other Big East Conference presidents. I pressed strategically and aggressively to advance Villanova's interests, while at the same time recognizing this was also an effort to bolster the Conference and all member institutions. While strongly advocating for our University, it is essential that the Conference and both institutions can thrive in Philadelphia, the fourth largest media market in the nation.
To achieve this, my fellow presidents and I developed a framework in which the Big East membership clearly and tangibly recognizes the equity that Villanova has built for the Conference in the Philadelphia market over many years. The framework also positively addresses some very important and unique logistical issues related to television exposure, scheduling and facilities. Importantly, the Conference offered a strong vote of confidence in our football program by providing substantial financial resources to us to assist in best positioning it to move forward in this dynamic landscape.
You may ask how this announcement affects our basketball program. I recently spoke with Jay Wright, head coach of our men's basketball team, who said that, "Villanova and Temple will work well together to ensure the Big East's status as an elite conference and to make Philadelphia a great Big East city. We look forward to adding new chapters to our great rivalry with Temple in the years to come."
Strategically, it was essential that throughout all our discussions, we kept our principles and in no way limited our future options for our athletic programs and the University as mandated in our Strategic Plan.
As always, I am grateful for your support and dedication to Villanova University.
Fr. Peter Donohue, OSA
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.
But the bigger issue hasn’t changed much for the Pirates, who have more fans and generally more football success than any of their peers but can’t make an upgrade in conference status.
The ACC and Big East don’t think ECU has enough of a television market base to justify getting a bid.
If traditional athletic logic carried any weight, the Pirates long ago would have been in the ACC or the Big East.
But since conference leaders in the ACC and Big East care more about annexing television markets than programs and fan bases with true regional athletic substance, the Pirates can’t catch a break.
"All I know is they have great basketball tradition, I’m happy about that," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said on the addition. "Personally, I look at what’s best for Villanova, and I think as long as Villanova is in a good conference, with good basketball schools, we’ll be fine. And they’re a good basketball school."
The inept leadership of the Big East caused the conference re-alignment we are now experiencing. I'm not only talking about the Big East losing teams. I'm talking ALL the conference re-alignment nonsense. If the Big East had allowed the football school to control their own destiny outside of the votes of our catholic brothers, the college football landscape would be much different. The shuffling of teams may have happened anyway, but the current state of re-alignment is directly attributable to the lack of leadership with the Big East offices in Providence.
"In light of that, we just wanted to go on record as saying that at no time during any of this did anyone representing Villanova disparage Temple in any way. They've been very supportive in our expansion effort, and have handled themselves to the highest degree of professionalism you could imagine. It's just unfortunate that in the world we live in, these things get out there that get legs but have no substance."
"We want to be in for football," Wright said. "That's the issue. If Temple is in for basketball, it's not going to change the Temple-Villanova rivalry. It can't get any better. We want to be in for football. Whatever the conference does and gets us in for football, we're happy with it. I don't care what they do with Temple, as long as they put us in for football."
I asked one Big East source if Villanova was asked Monday to state its intentions and my answer came in the form of a question, whether it makes sense for Big East allies to pin 'Nova down right now? Other schools understand Villanova is very interested in moving up but needs to see the shakeout. If everything breaks right - if Boise State, for instance, surprisingly decides the Big East would make a great home - then Villanova has signaled it would like to move up, if it makes fiscal sense.
"It's now a dog-eat-dog world in college athletics," he said, "and everyone is acting in their own self-interest. It's not about fit or academics or rivalries. It's about football and money, period."
Tranghese said "you can't cast stones" at Pitt or Syracuse because every football school in the Big East "didn't feel secure." He said that through the final years of his tenure in the commissioner's chair, he grew tired of the "belly-aching" from football schools that longed for bigger TV dollars and bowl contracts.
"They simply weren't winning enough games and kept pointing the finger at us to get them more money," he said. "The best way to solve their own problems was to win games, but the Big East hasn't been good enough in football. It was an incredible burden."