RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Tulane is joining the Big East as a full member in 2014.
"I would go as far to say as this is a historic day for Tulane University ... the Big East is coming to the Big Easy," school President Scott Cowen said.
East Carolina will also join the rebuilding Big East for football only in 2014, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because neither the conference nor the school was prepared to make an official announcement. East Carolina, located in Greenville, N.C., has a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m.
Tulane and East Carolina currently play in Conference USA. They will become the fifth and sixth C-USA schools to join the rebuilding Big East in the last two years.
Rutgers announced last week that it would leave the Big East for the Big Ten. Rutgers would like to join the Big Ten by 2014, along with Maryland, but the Scarlet Knights have left their departure date from the Big East ambiguous.
Conference bylaws require members to give the league notification of two years and three months before departing, but the Big East has negotiated early exits for Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia in the past year.
West Virginia joined the Big 12 this year. Syracuse and Pitt will begin play in the Atlantic Coast Conference in September.
With Maryland leaving the ACC, there has been strong speculation that Connecticut or Louisville will be the next to leave the Big East.
If either does, the conference is still on target to have 12 football members in 2014, just not the same ones as it will have in 2013 when the new Big East debuts.
Boise State and San Diego State, currently in the Mountain West, are set to join for football only starting in 2013, anchoring the Big East’s new West Division. Also on schedule to join next season are current C-USA members SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida.
Navy has committed to join the Big East football in 2015. The conference had planned to find a 14th member to balance out its divisions even before Rutgers left. BYU and Air Force were top targets for that spot.
Officials from San Diego State and Boise State have said they are still committed to joining the Big East but have expressed a desire for the conference to add more western schools.
Tulane seems an odd choice based on the school’s recent performance in football and men’s basketball, the two most prominent sports.
The Green Wave haven’t been to a bowl game since 2002 and last made the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1995. Tulane just completed a 2-10 football season under first-year coach Curtis Johnson.
Though the Big East has been trying to gather as many major television markets as possible and New Orleans comes in at 53rd-largest in the country, the move also gives Memphis a natural rival.
The Green Wave play their home football games in the Superdome, but have struggled to draw fans. Tulane’s average attendance for six home games was 18,085 this season.
East Carolina has been a consistent winner in football and looked to get in the Big East for years. The Pirates have played in a bowl five out of the last six years and finished 8-4 this season, just missing out on a trip to the C-USA title game.