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Reports: UConn Set to Join Big East Conference

It’s happening!!!

Ian Bethune

UConn is set to leave the American Athletic Conference and join the Big East Conference, according to reports from Digital Sports Desk and the Hartford Courant’s Mike Anthony. The school is “awaiting and fully expecting” an invitation from the conference and will announce the move in the near future.

While its far from the likes of the original Big East that broke up in 2013, the current iteration of the conference still features a handful of old rivals such as DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. It also includes Butler, Creighton and Xavier.

Since the Big East does not sponsor football, UConn will need to find a home for its program. Anthony said that dropping the program is not considered an option and neither is staying in the AAC as a football-only member. The most likely options are either going independent or joining a different conference — such as the MAC or Conference USA — as a football-only member.

UConn wasn’t pleased with the AAC’s new television deal due to the fact that some of the Huskies’ basketball games were going to end up on ESPN+, an online subscription service, instead of linear television.

“There are certain exclusive components which we believe are not in the best interest of our fan base or representative of maintaining and building our brand,” athletic director David Benedict said.

The conference was also a bad fit geographically for UConn with most of the schools located in the south and midwest. There were also a distinct lack of natural rivals for the Huskies with Cincinnati really the only one — and even that was relatively mild.

While many of the historic Big East teams have left the conference, a few still remain. Providence will once again be a battle for New England supremacy while UConn and Villanova can reignite the animosity. All the schools in the Big East are also basketball-first, a change from the AAC which was more focused on football.

According to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, here’s a timeline of events for what still needs to happen for UConn to get official entry into the Big East. First, all the presidents in the conference need to ratify UConn “early next week” and the UConn Board of Trustees will also need to meet Wednesday to approve it, though the leaked reports could move that up. Then on Thursday, the school will announce the move officially at Madison Square Garden.

UPDATE

UConn released a statement on the matter: “It is our responsibility to always be mindful of what is in the best interest of our student athletes, our fans and our future. With that being said, we have been and remain proud members of the American Athletic Conference.”

UPDATE 2

According to HearstCT’s Jeff Jacobs, UConn doesn’t have a plan for what to do with the football program as of now.

UPDATE 3

According to CBSSports, Big East Presidents have voted in favor of adding UConn. The final hurdle will be for UConn’s Board of Trustees to also approve the move on Wednesday.