Memphis to join UCF, others and move to Big East in 2013
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 15:02
After weeks of rumors and rumblings, particularly within the past few days, the Big East officially introduced Memphis a new member on Wednesday. The Tigers are slated to join the conference in all sports in 2013.
Memphis marks the fourth school to have been poached from Conference USA as part of the Big East's revival, product of some of the drastic changes in conference realignment within the past year. The Tigers will join UCF, SMU and Houston in making the move to the automatic-qualifier conference.
Memphis is a natural fit for the basketball-elite Big East, with a program that has been the class of C-USA for some time. Doubts about the Tigers' ability to join the AQ league predominately were rooted in the school's weak football program, which has been a bottom-dweller in C-USA as well as the FBS, in general, for the past few years.
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto expressed his faith that the Tigers' football program will rise to the occasion when they make the transition in 2013, and that after meetings with Memphis administrators he believes the program is heading in a positive direction.
The move by Memphis means UCF fans can look forward to more intense matchups between the Knights and Tigers on the hardwood. The past two times the two programs have met at the UCF Arena have come down to the wire, with the Tigers winning a thriller last season and the Knights winning a classic of their own last month, a historic win that saw the students present storm the court.
Reports are circulating that Conference USA, reeling from losing yet another member, is drawing closer to inking and announcing a formal merger with the Mountain West Conference, though nothing is confirmed yet.