Last week’s announcement that East Carolina has accepted an all-sports invitation from the soon-to-be-renamed Big East Conference resolves the lingering concern over the fate of sports programs other than football and is cause for celebration.
Some critical of ECU’s move – into a conference that has seen its largest and most competitive universities leave during a lengthy conference realignment – are correct in saying that the Big East will now more closely resemble Conference USA. But whatever name the conference ends up with, there is no question that its member schools will be much better positioned to compete for national titles and generate significantly more revenue. That financial benefit also should boost academic programs, further raising the university’s profile.
A lot has changed since Chancellor Steve Ballard and Athletics Director Terry Holland lobbied for an invitation to the Big East in 2011. After those early efforts seemed to stall, more spinning of the realignment wheel brought a football-only invitation late last year. But the Pirates’ acceptance of a football-only position in the Big East in 2014 still left a cloud of uncertainty over the other 18 sports at ECU.
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