Big East welcomes East Carolina

East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill watches a successful field goal by his team during the first half of an NCAA college football game against UAB on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

 The Big East announced Tuesday that East Carolina will join the Big East for football in 2014.

PROVIDENCE – BIG EAST Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced the addition of East Carolina University, one of the nation’s emerging research institutions, as a conference member that will compete in the BIG EAST in the sport of football.


The BIG EAST Board of Directors, by a unanimous vote of its Presidents, extended the invitation to East Carolina.  ECU will begin BIG EAST football competition in the 2014 season.


“We are very excited to welcome East Carolina University into the BIG EAST Conference for football,” said Aresco.  “They have a strong football tradition and a consistently successful program that will help elevate our football league.  The University is an outstanding academic institution that reflects the values important to the BIG EAST Conference.” 


“ECU is excited to become a football member of the BIG EAST Conference,” said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.  “We know we will be successful and add value to the BIG EAST.  While hundreds of dedicated Pirates have contributed to this day, I especially want to recognize the relentless energy of Terry Holland and Nick Floyd in making this day a reality.  It is a great day to be a Pirate.”


Founded in 1907 in Greenville, N.C., East Carolina University is a 105-year-old public university and research institution that is nationally recognized for preparing rural family physicians, educational professionals and for its strong performing arts programs. 


It enrolls 27,500 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students and is North Carolina’s largest producer of education and primary care professionals.  It operates the Brody School of Medicine, a new school of Dental Medicine and a growing undergraduate Honors College in Greenville.


On the football field, East Carolina has been a consistent winner.  The Pirates went to five straight bowl games and won two conference championships from 2006-10.  Under third-year head coach Ruffin McNeill, ECU has compiled an 8-4 regular-season record this season, which included a 7-1 conference mark.  The Pirates will be headed to their 18th bowl game.


The ECU football team plays in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that has a capacity of 50,000.  The team has averaged more than 47,000 fans per game in each of the past three seasons.


The BIG EAST has previously announced new members that will begin playing football in the 2013.  Those schools are: Boise State University, University of Central Florida, University of Houston, University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, San Diego State University.   Tulane University will begin play in 2014.  The Naval Academy will start BIG EAST football play in 2015.



Here's the press release from the Big East office: