Nov 292012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The addition of East Carolina University to the Big East Conference for football should be a dream come true, one long overdue, for Pirate fans were it not for some outstanding questions it poses. While the university can be delighted to have a home for its most prominent revenue sport, the health of that conference and the potential disruption caused to the school’s 18 other athletic programs are cause for concern.

That should not act as a wet blanket thrown on a celebratory occasion since this move was long sought after and fans should share the confidence of Chancellor Steve Ballard and Athletic Director Terry Holland that this is the proper course for Pirate sports. But the answers to those outstanding questions will have lasting ramifications for the school and all should be interested in seeing them resolved with due diligence.

When the wheel of realignment spun again this month, fortune favored the gold (and purple) and Tuesday brought the announcement that the Big East Conference would add Tulane University in all sports and the Pirates for football. The move comes a little more than a year after East Carolina officials publicly applied for membership in that conference.

Recognizing the enormous stakes involved and the need to put its football program in an environment to compete and generate greater revenue for the school, Ballard and Holland lobbied relentlessly for admission only to see those efforts fall short in 2011. It is only now, out of necessity to the conference’s survival, that the Pirates were regarded favorably. That should still be cause for delight rather than bitterness.

The financial benefit for East Carolina should be significant. Conference USA teams receive about $1.17 million annually through its television contract, while football members of the Big East average about $3.18 million, though that agreement is set to expire in 2013. East Carolina will join a year later, but the expectation is for a more lucrative windfall. Academic benefit should follow as the additional revenue can be invested throughout the campus and a higher profile has drawn larger applicant pools at peer universities.

Issues remain about the long-term health of the Big East, which saw its membership raided by the Atlantic Coast Conference again this week, and for the future of East Carolina’s 18 other intercollegiate sports. However, finding a way into the big-money club for college football was the school’s primary goal. Achieving it should be cause for celebration.

via The Daily Reflector.


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