Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
I want to provide an update regarding the Big East Conference and how changes announced this afternoon will impact Villanova University and the Big East moving forward.
This morning, the Conference’s Board of Directors invited Temple University into the Big East for football, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year, and as a full member in all sports in 2013-2014.
Villanova endorsed Temple University’s invitation, and while some of you may wonder why we would support adding a second Big East team to the Philadelphia market, it was clear that Villanova University will benefit from the expansion as will the Big East and the City of Philadelphia. We knew that we wouldn’t be the first pair of same-conference/same-market teams: Duke and UNC, Cal and Stanford, and UCLA and USC have all found ways to be highly successful in their respective markets.
First and foremost, we saw this expansion strategy as the best way to ensure our University is strongly positioned to achieve our overall goals and strategic vision. In addition, this approach will further fortify the Big East brand in the Philadelphia market.
Throughout the process, I worked closely with the other Big East Conference presidents. I pressed strategically and aggressively to advance Villanova’s interests, while at the same time recognizing this was also an effort to bolster the Conference and all member institutions. While strongly advocating for our University, it is essential that the Conference and both institutions can thrive in Philadelphia, the fourth largest media market in the nation.
To achieve this, my fellow presidents and I developed a framework in which the Big East membership clearly and tangibly recognizes the equity that Villanova has built for the Conference in the Philadelphia market over many years. The framework also positively addresses some very important and unique logistical issues related to television exposure, scheduling and facilities. Importantly, the Conference offered a strong vote of confidence in our football program by providing substantial financial resources to us to assist in best positioning it to move forward in this dynamic landscape.
You may ask how this announcement affects our basketball program. I recently spoke with Jay Wright, head coach of our men’s basketball team, who said that, “Villanova and Temple will work well together to ensure the Big East’s status as an elite conference and to make Philadelphia a great Big East city. We look forward to adding new chapters to our great rivalry with Temple in the years to come.”
Strategically, it was essential that throughout all our discussions, we kept our principles and in no way limited our future options for our athletic programs and the University as mandated in our Strategic Plan.
As always, I am grateful for your support and dedication to Villanova University.
Fr. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.