UCF to Join Big East Officially, Announcement Coming Wednesday According to SourcesFootball, Sports — By Allen Levin on December 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm Tweet
Months of rumors, unconfirmed speculation and media hype regarding the UCF athletic program’s future finally came to a head Tuesday.
The Big East is set to officially add the University of Central Florida for all sports by the start of the 2013 season, according to a report on ESPN.com, and an announcement could come as early as Wednesday.
“We believe the Big East will make an announcement tomorrow that will allow us to share very good news with our fans,” said Grant Heston, Associate Vice President of UCF’s News and Information Department.
In addition, the Big East Conference will be adding Boise State, San Diego State, SMU and Houston. Boise State and San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference will be receiving football-only invites, while UCF’s fellow Conference-USA foes SMU and Houston will be joining the league for all sports.
Navy, a football independent, is also expected to join as a football-only member, according to the ESPN sources.
UCF has been rumored as a Big East target for months, but an array of issues arose that quieted the rumors.
First, the Knights took heat for being under investigation by the NCAA for potential recruiting violations, which led to the resignations of Athletic Director Keith Tribble and wide receivers coach David Kelly. The allegations also led to the suspension of UCF basketball point guard A.J. Rompza.
Then, the UCF Football team suffered from arguably the most disappoitning season in the entire FBS this year, finishing 5-7, after having expectations of repeating as conference champions and being a potential BCS buster.
These factors had people wondering whether the Big East invitation would ever actually come. However, Tuesday marked history for the UCF program as they were finally formally asked to join the Big East.
The addition of these five programs comes at a time where the Big East is in disarray, suffering from the departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, and TCU and West Virginia to the Big 12, leaving the conference with only five football-playing schools.
With the addition of Boise State and Houston, the Big East gets two teams that were both ranked in the Top 10 nationally this season, including a Cougars team that nearly completed a perfect regular season. This should help the Big East keep its automatic qualifying status for the BCS, which has been rumored to be in danger after all the conference’s losses in recent months.
With San Diego State, Houston and Central Florida in the mix, the Big East adds three major TV markets in California, Texas and Florida, which should also give the conference reassurance of keeping its AQ label.
Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and USF are the only football programs currently remaining in the Big East, so the addition of potentially six new programs should boost the conference’s overall appeal and excitement.
For the Knights, it’s a sign of relief, but more importantly, a significant milestone in the history of the school. After all the scandal that UCF has endured recently, the Big East bid is finally some positive news.
UCF will now be in a bigger TV market, playing much more competitive teams and be a significantly more appealing option for high-profile recruits.
The Knights will be playing alongside top-notch programs and should garner much higher fan support as teams like Boise State, Rutgers and Louisville come to Orlando on a yearly basis.
From a basketball stand point, the Knights will have the opportunity to play some of college basketball’s perennial powerhouses, including Georgetown, Marquette and St. Johns.
Even more importantly, UCF can renew their rivalry with its cross-state foe USF. The Knights have been lacking a legitimate rivalry since USF decided to end its contract with UCF after 2008. With the two schools playing in the same conference, the rivalry will only intensify.
Keep checking back with KnightNews.com for further developments on this breaking story in UCF sports.
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