Nov. 27, East Carolina University and the Big East made a joint announcement that the school had accepted a formal invitation to join the league as a football-only member starting in 2014. This news may have come as a shock to some members of the Pirate Nation, but it didn’t matter, the story broke hard and spread fast.
Later that day in a press conference Athletic Director (now in an AD Emeritus role) Terry Holland had this to say about the move, "It is our intention for today's announcement to be a strong first step toward finding the best competitive environment possible for ECU's nineteen varsity sports; BIG EAST Football provides an opportunity to renew old rivalries and begin new ones, both of which will be exciting for our players, coaches and fans.”
That statement in and of itself represents why we have selected this move to be the top moment in ECU Athletics for the year of 2012. In the small picture this simply raises the bar of competition for the Pirates; they will have a chance to qualify for new bowl games in which they’ll player high levels of competition, most likely from the Atlantic Coast Conference due to automatic qualifiers.
In the grand scheme of things this was a huge move for the spread of Pirate Football; giving them access to one of the largest national media markets in the nation. This media market will incorporate areas in Florida, Texas and even California.
Growth and change are two things East Carolina is accustom to; it has been the fastest-growing campus in the University North Carolina system for the past six years. The move to the Big East can only mean more growth and a raised level of public awareness for this program and university.
The “New Big East” will end up looking a lot like Conference USA, which is a good sign for Pirate fans since the team went 7-1 in conference this season. As of right now, the Big East will consist of ECU, Tulane, UConn, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, SMU, Memphis, and Houston in 2014. Navy is also scheduled to join the conference in 2015. With the level of young talent on this Pirate team there is no reason why they can’t make an immediate impact when they make their debut in the Big East come 2014.
So there you have it, East Carolina announcing their move to the Big East is this year’s top moment in ECU Athletics. It’s easy to see why this move takes the top spot when you think about what it offers for not just Pirate football, but Pirate athletics collectively. Don’t be surprised if eventually East Carolina gets rid of the football-only part of this agreement and moves all sports to the Big East; food for thought.