Temple to play football in Big East in 2012

3/7/2012 3:10:01 PM

The move, announced Wednesday but expected for weeks, gives the Big East 18 full members and 13 football-only schools. It brings on board an improving football program, a traditionally strong men's basketball team and the coveted Philadelphia television market.

"An exciting day," said Big East commissioner John Marinatto.

Temple, which previously played football in the Big East from its 1991 inception until it was kicked out in 2004 for underperforming, will officially re-join the conference in the sport starting on July 1.

It must pay a $6 million exit fee to leave the Mid-American Conference, where it played football, but Marinatto said the Big East would assist Temple with the payment.

"It's an exciting time for Temple and an exciting time for the Big East," said Temple football coach Steve Addazio. "It's a special day, a landmark day."

Temple plays basketball and all other sports in the Atlantic 10 but will join the Big East as a full member in those sports on July 1, 2013. It will be the first time in Temple's history that its athletic programs will compete in one conference.

The Big East board of directors voted unanimously to invite Temple after a motion put forth by the president of Villanova, a longtime rival in Big 5 basketball, and seconded by Louisville's president, Marinatto said.

The announcement was made during an afternoon press conference at Madison Square Garden, where the Big East is holding its men's basketball tournament.

The MAC said earlier it reached an agreement for Temple's football team to leave the conference immediately by paying a fee to avoid the normal required notice of two seasons.

"As a result the conference and its member institutions engaged in a dialogue with Temple regarding an appropriate resolution. We have come to an agreement that is fair to the parties involved," said Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher.

The Big East, of course, has been a big part of the ongoing game of musical chairs in college athletics.

Before Temple, Memphis was the previous school to join the Big East in all sports.

The conference had been reeling from the planned exits of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Its goal was to have 12 football members. Temple would be the 13th.

Prior to adding Memphis, the Big East had already brought on Central Florida, SMU and Houston as full members and Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football only.

It hopes to create two divisions and stage an annual conference championship game.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced in September that they were leaving for the ACC and West Virginia is moving to the Big 12. TCU, which had agreed to leave the Mountain West for the Big East, decided instead to join the Big 12.