After a few votes by the governing powers that be, the Big East Conference officially announced the addition of UConn in a press conference at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. UConn will be a member of the Big East in 20 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.
The exact year of entry is still to be determined, but UConn’s membership was approved unanimously by the presidents of the 10 other Big East schools.
“As a group of schools rooted in basketball pre-eminence, we can think of no better partner than UConn to join us in perpetuating the rivalries, traditions and successes that have made the BIG EAST unlike any other conference in college basketball,” Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said. “We know that our competitions and the experiences of our student-athletes, coaches and supporters across all of our sports will be greatly enriched by UConn’s return.”
Ackerman delivered the opening remarks, in which she touted the benefits of the Big East’s newest addition, including a new 20-game conference slate, the quality of UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, and the added excitement it will bring to Madison Square Garden come Big East Tournament time. She also added that there are currently no plans to add a 12th member.
Per the contract released yesterday, UConn will pay $3.5 million to join the Big East and also pay an exit fee to the American Athletic Conference, which is currently slated at $10 million with a 27-month waiting period.
“We see it as an investment more than a cost,” outgoing UConn president Susan Herbst said, noting that the school will save “a couple of million dollars per year” on travel and that men’s and women’s basketball season ticket sales have gone up, in addition to donations from an excited alumni base.
“Long-term... this is the best thing for our university, our student-athletes, and our athletic programs” Athletic Director David Benedict said, adding that over 2,000 people renewed or purchased season tickets since Friday, when the news of this move first broke.
Men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley said the biggest immediate impact will come in recruiting, where he feels UConn will do better in the regions where it recruits, and in excitement for the fanbase, which will be eager to attend more games now.
UConn coach Dan Hurley on impact of move to Big East will have on men’s basketball program pic.twitter.com/kTfeeyRl8o— Gavin Keefe (@GavinKeefe) June 27, 2019
Benedict was also asked about the football program. He said it starts with a conversation with Mike Aresco, which needs to happen as soon as possible, and that UConn remains committed to “Division 1-A football.”