- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Navy accepted an invitation to play football in the Big East, starting in 2015.

The service academy has been a football independent since the program began in 1879. The Midshipmen have been thriving over the last decade. They played in eight straight bowl games before slipping to 5-7 this season and have won a record 10 straight games against rival Army.

“While our independent status has served Navy football well to date, Big East conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future,” said Vice Admiral Michael Miller, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto was to hold a conference call Tuesday afternoon with Miller, athletic director Chet Gladchuk and football coach Ken Niumatalolo.

In December, the Big East added Boise State and San Diego State as football-only members and SMU, Houston and Central Florida in all sports. Those schools will join in 2013.

The Big East is trying to build a 12-team football conference with an eastern and western division and a league championship game. The conference is losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia to the Big 12, but it’s unclear when.

West Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Big East so it can join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big East sued West Virginia to make the school abide by the league’s 27-month notification period, which would keep the Mountaineers in the Big East through the 2013-14 school year.

A Rhode Island judge has ordered West Virginia and the Big East to enter nonbinding mediation to resolve their competing lawsuits.

Pitt, Syracuse and the ACC have said they will not challenge the Big East bylaws.

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