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AP Source: Memphis to join Big East
Question of the Day
Memphis has been trying to move from Conference USA since being snubbed when the Big East expanded in 2005, losing a long-time rivalry with Louisville. A departure now would be pricey for the Tigers. The exit fee from Conference USA for 2013-14 is $500,000 plus Memphis’ share of television rights revenue, which is approximately $6.13 million, according to a league spokeswoman.
The Tigers have one of the strongest basketball programs in the country. Memphis had made 23 NCAA tournament appearances and lost in the national title game in 1973 and 2008. They also reached the Final Four.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been lobbying the Big East to add Memphis to help strengthen the league in basketball. Louisville and Memphis have spent years together first in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Metro Conference and Conference USA. Pitino again called out for league officials to consider Memphis after Louisville beat Memphis on Dec. 17.
“I’m just hoping the Big East gets smart and does something about that and allows them to come into the league,” Pitino said. “I keep getting on the pulpit and saying this: We got hurt big time and we need Memphis. Memphis doesn’t need us, we need Memphis. We need Temple. We need to build up basketball again.”
Providence, St. John’s, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Marquette, Villanova, DePaul and Notre Dame are the Big East schools that do not compete in the league’s football conference _ but still help make up a strong basketball conference.
With John Calipari as coach, Memphis made four straight NCAA tournament appearances between 2006 and 2009. Josh Pastner, who took over when Calipari left for Kentucky in 2009, took Memphis to the NCAA tournament last season after winning the Conference USA tournament. Memphis will be hosting Conference USA’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in March.
Memphis football has played in five bowls since 2003, but all have been lower-tier games. Lately, the program has hit the skids. Memphis just hired Justin Fuente as its new football coach, replacing Larry Porter who was fired after going 3-21 in two seasons. The Tigers play football at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo in New York contributed to this report.
By Michael P. Orsi
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